Iran has arrested a member of the negotiating team that reached a landmark nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying, a judiciary spokesman said on Sunday.
The suspect was released on bail after a few days in jail but is still under investigation, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, the first deputy of the Chief Justice of Iran, said at a weekly news conference, calling the unidentified individual a “spy who had infiltrated the nuclear team,” state media reported.
No details have been given about the arrest and it remains unclear on whether it is the same case as the one reported on Wednesday by semi-official Iranian news agency Tabnak.
It said that Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a dual-national in charge of banking issues during the two-year negotiations, was arrested for “selling the country’s economic details to foreigners“.
“(News of) the arrest of the infiltrating spy is true. Legal action has been instigated against him and he has been released on bail,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie as saying at his weekly press conference.
“But the charge against him has not been proven yet.”
On 16 August, the Tehran prosecutor announced the arrest of a British-Iranian on suspicion of links to Britain’s intelligence service.
Without naming the accused, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on 16 August the suspect was “active in the field of the Iranian economy, and was linked to the British espionage service”.
But it remained unclear whether Dorri Esfahani and the British-Iranian were the same person.
A conservative-linked weekly, Ramze Obour (which means Passcode in English), on 24 August Wednesday quoted hardline lawmaker Javad Karimi Ghodousi as saying Esfahani “bypassed the negotiating team and gave invaluable information to the US”.
It claimed he had been paid by both Britain and the United States.
However, the ISNA news agency said the accused was not a member of the negotiating team or the foreign ministry.
It said the accused “only appeared on the team at certain points, out of necessity on behalf of one of the country’s economic sectors”.
However, Mr. Dorri Esfahani later gave an interview with Tabnak in which he dismissed the reports as “ridiculous”.
He was a member of a parallel team working on lifting economic sanctions, under one of the main negotiators for the deal, Iranian media reported.
Last year’s nuclear deal was widely celebrated in Iran and internationally, but some Iranian hardliners saw it as a capitulation to the US.
The deal with the US, UK, China, France, Germany and Russia resulted in the lifting of sanctions against Iran imposed over its nuclear programme.