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Iran officials arrest 7 alleged US operatives ahead of scheduled protests

[JURIST] Iranian authorities have arrested seven for allegedly planning to provoke rioting on February 11, the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution [BBC backgrounder], including several in the employ of the US Central Intelligence Agency [official website], according to a statement released Sunday by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. The seven people detained were said to be linked [Reuters report] to the US-funded Radio Farda [media website, in Persian], a Prague-based Persian language radio station that has been blocked by the Iranian government, and was described in the statement [ISNA report] as a counter-revolutionary and Zionist satellite channel. According to Iranian authorities, the seven were trained [AFP report] in Dubai and Istanbul and played a key role in the anti-government protests [JURIST report] held in Tehran last December, during the Shi'ite holy day of Ashura [BBC backgrounder]. According to authorities, they were to flee the country after February 11.

Last week, Fars News Agency [official website] reported [JURIST report] that Iran will soon execute nine people for their roles in last summer's post-election protests [JURIST news archive]. The nine protesters were charged with the capital crime of moharebeh, which means waging war against God. Two others were executed [JURIST report] for the same crime last month. Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi [JURIST news archive] has condemned the hangings, which he views as being aimed at deterring protesters from taking to the streets during the coming anniversary. The Iranian government has faced significant international scrutiny for its handling of the post-election protests and treatment of thousands arrested as a result. Last month, Amnesty International [official website] labeled [JURIST report] human rights violations committed by the Iranian government following the election among the worst of the past 20 years. In September, human rights groups called for [JURIST report] the UN General Assembly [official website] to appoint a special envoy to investigate allegations of rights violations. Alleged human rights abuses of detainees include sexual assault, beatings, and forced confessions [JURIST reports].

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