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Iran claims to be holding U.S. spy

TEHRAN, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Tehran said Monday it was holding a U.S. spy who had confessed he was on a mission to infiltrate the Iranian Intelligence Ministry.

Iran's Press TV reported Amir Mirzaei Hekmati had been detained recently and had admitted he was a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative.

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In a segment aired on Iranian television Sunday night, Hekmati said he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2001 and was trained in intelligence-gathering for years. He said he was shipped to Bagram air base in Afghanistan and was given access to classified information before flying to Tehran, Press TV said.

He allegedly said his mission was to gain the confidence of Iranian intelligence operatives, using the secret information he had been provided by the CIA.

The network described Hekmati as an Arizona native of Iranian descent.

"It was their [the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's] plan to first burn some useful information, give it to them [the Iranians] and let Iran's Intelligence Ministry think that this is good material," he was quoted as saying.

Iranian officials said the country's intelligence network had learned what Hekmati's assignment was while monitoring Bagram air base and took him into custody.

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Press TV said a number of CIA operatives also were arrested in late May and late November. Iran also recently got its hands on an advanced CIA drone that went down in the country.

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