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Iran 's Intelligence Ministry Lauds Its Informer Network

August 27, 2000 TEHRAN (AP)-- Iran 's intelligence minister has revealed, for the first time, that his ministry has thousands of employees and relies on hundreds of thousands of informers, Tehran television reported Sunday.

Ali Yunesi also said the ministry was undergoing reforms, but he gave no other details, according to the broadcast.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has ordered an overhaul of the ministry after it was disclosed that its agents were behind the killings of five intellectuals and political dissidents in 1998.

"People cooperate with the Intelligence Ministry. They are a very good source of information for us. Hundreds of thousands of informers are helping us and providing us with information," Yunesi said.

He said Israel has been trying to harm Iran and its security, referring to the case of ten Iranian Jews convicted last month of spying for the Jewish state. The Jews were sentenced to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. Three others were acquitted.

Iran considers Israel an enemy and all Iranians are banned from dealing with or traveling to the Jewish state.

Yunesi said the arrest of the Jews was one of the ministry's greatest achievements and that the convicted Jews were dealt with fairly. People caught spying for Israel in the U.S. have received much harsher convictions, Yunesi said.

Iranian Jews, the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel, have lived in relative tranquility for more than 2,000 years. But the trial of the 13 Jews and the convictions that followed have alarmed Jewish Iranians, who numbered about 100,000 just before the country's 1979 Islamic revolution. That number has dwindled to an estimated 25,000.


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