Iran arrested eight people “linked to the CIA” during street violence that erupted in nationwide demonstrations against a decision to hike fuel prices, state news agency IRNA reported late Wednesday.
“Some elements who tried to collect information about the recent riots and send them out of the country ... were identified and arrested,” IRNA quoted the director-general of the intelligence ministry’s anti-espionage department as saying.
Two others accused of trying to collect information and transfer it abroad were arrested before they could leave the country, the news agency said.
They had all been “trained in different countries on how to collect information... as citizen-journalists”, it added.
Iranian officials have presented the anti-government protests which rocked the country as a foreign conspiracy.
In comments reported by state media, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the Iranian people extinguished “a very dangerous deep conspiracy that cost so much money and effort.” He praised the police, the Guard and the Basij for “entering the field and carrying out their task in a very difficult confrontation.”
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had earlier claimed “victory” for the government and said Iran had passed a “historic test,” referring to the Iranian government’s crackdown on protests in the country.