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Iran executes man convicted of spying for U.S., Israel

An Iranian convicted of spying for U.S. and Israeli intelligence was executed on Monday, according to Iran's official IRIB news agency.

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July 20 (Reuters) - An Iranian convicted of spying for U.S. and Israeli intelligence was executed on Monday, according to Iran's official IRIB news agency.

Last month, the judiciary said Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, who was arrested in 2018, had spied on former Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani, adding, however, that the case was not connected to Soleimani’s killing earlier this year.

On Jan. 3, a U.S. drone strike in Iraq killed Soleimani, leader of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force. Washington had accused Soleimani of masterminding attacks by Iran-aligned militias on U.S. forces in the region.

A report aired on Iranian state TV on Monday included footage of Mousavi-Majd talking about meeting with contacts from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Israel's Mossad as well as audio of an alleged conversation between him and a CIA agent in English.

Mousavi-Majd moved from Iran to Syria with his family as a child and his familiarity with that country allowed him to collect intelligence on Iranian military advisors there, the report said.

The execution comes at a time when millions of Iranians have taken to social media to protest against the death sentences awarded to three men accused of participating in anti-government protests last November.

Their executions have been suspended, one of their attorneys, Babak Paknia, said on Sunday.

Rights activists said the sentences for the three men were aimed at intimidating future protesters.

Witnesses said security forces fired tear gas on Thursday to disperse demonstrators in the southwestern city of Behbahan who were protesting against economic problems but also the death sentences against the three men.

The Farsi hashtag “Don’t execute” was tweeted millions of times last week.

(Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jonathan Oatis)

((babak.dehghanpisheh@thomsonreuters.com;))

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