TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has executed a man convicted of spying for Israel in an “intensifying intelligence war” between the two countries, a high-level Iranian security official announced Saturday at a rare news conference.
Ali Ashtary, a businessman who sold communication and security equipment to Iranian security organizations, was arrested in 2007 and found guilty in June of spying for the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency quoted the official as saying.
The official, who heads the counterespionage unit of the Intelligence Ministry but was not identified by name, said Ashtary was put to death Monday morning. The Associated Press reported that he was hanged.
The case “shows a new dimension and intensifying of the widespread intelligence fight between us and the Israeli intelligence service,” the official reportedly told a select group of local reporters.
Israel has repeatedly said it is prepared to attack Iran over its nuclear program. Israel and the United States say Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran, which does not recognize Israel, maintains that its nuclear program is meant only for energy purposes.
The counterespionage official said the Mossad is using satellite television advertisements and Internet chat rooms to recruit Iranians in order to obtain information about Iran.