Eight people "linked to the CIA" have been arrested in Iran during street violence that erupted after demonstrators took to streets across the nation against a decision to hike fuel prices. The director-general of the intelligence ministry's counter-espionage department said that some elements who tried to collect information about the recent riots and send them out of the country were identified and arrested, as per the agency. Six of the eight who have been arrested are alleged of attending the riots and carrying out orders, said an official to the agency. The rest two were arrested before leaving the country on accusations of trying to collect information and transfer it abroad.
The agency added that the arrested persons were trained in different countries on how to collect information as citizen-journalists.
On Tuesday, the United States said that it had received thousands of messages from the Islamic republic about protests, including photos and videos, after issuing an appeal for them to defy internet restrictions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that about 20,000 messages, videos, pictures, notes of the regime's abuses have been received through Telegram messaging services. The protests came after a year and a half of sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump that aim to contain Iran's regional role. At least 143 demonstrators have been killed since November 15 in Iran's crackdown, claimed Amnesty International on Monday.
Iran's regional enemies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel have supported the US to reimpose sanctions that have plummeted Iran's economy after the US withdrew from its nuclear deal in 2015. According to the reports, the police said that 180 ringleaders of the unrest had been detained by its agents across the country. At least 1,000 demonstrators have been arrested a week ago. Iran has blamed the 'thugs' who are linked to rival countries such as the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia creating unrest following hikes in gasoline prices that resulted in some of the worst violence in ten years.