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'Israel spy' put to death in Iran

Defendant Ali Ashtari in court
Ali Ashtari's appeal was summarily dismissed, Iran says

Iran has hanged a telecoms engineer convicted of spying for Israel, reports from Tehran say.

Ali Ashtari, an Iranian, was convicted in June of spying for Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. A video said to be of his confession was broadcast on TV.

He was convicted of sending "sensitive information on military, defence and research centres" for three years.

Israeli officials were quoted in June as saying that Israel was not familiar with the case.

Announcing the execution, which reportedly took place on Monday, Iran's official news agency said the case against the 45-year-old was clear and his appeal was summarily dismissed.

"He had spied for Mossad for three years," the state news agency quoted the intelligence ministry's director of counter-terrorism as saying.

I feared going to the intelligence ministry, and this fear was the reason why I kept choosing the wrong path,
Ali Ashtari
Confession broadcast on Iranian TV
"His espionage was so evident," the unnamed official said.

Officials said Ashtari was recruited by Israeli secret services to intercept the communications of Iranian officials working in the military and its controversial nuclear programme.

Broadcasting his apparent confession, state TV showed Ashtari sitting down wearing an open-necked shirt and jumper.

"It was my mistake and perhaps I feared going to the intelligence ministry, and this fear was the reason why I kept choosing the wrong path," he said, speaking into the camera.

"Do not repeat the mistakes that I made."

The case unfolded throughout the year against a backdrop of concerns in Iran that Israel was planning to launch a pre-emptive strike against its nuclear facilities.

Israel is a leading advocate of strong action against Tehran, which it believes is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran denies that charge, saying its nuclear programme is intended for energy supply only.

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