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Report: IRGC detains foreigners spying in Iran's deserts

This grab from a video clip shot by Iranian drones shows foreigners visiting Iran's desert.

The Intelligence Organization of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has detained several foreigners, including Britain's second most senior envoy in Tehran, for acts of spying such as taking earth samples in restricted areas, Iranian news agencies say. 

A video shot by Iranian drones and released by the IRGC's intelligence arm on Wednesday clearly shows the suspects visiting restricted areas with 'no entry' signs, IRNA news agency reported.

"One of those identified is the British deputy ambassador who has gone to Shahdad desert in Kerman with his family as a tourist, but as the recorded images show, he is taking soil samples when a missile exercise is being conducted by the IRGC Aerospace Force at the time."

The video showed Giles Whitaker, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Tehran, and his family. "Whitaker was expelled from the city to which he had traveled after apologizing," the report said.

According to Fars news agency, Whitaker was an army officer before a long career with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

One of those detained was identified as the husband of Austria's cultural attaché in Iran. He had traveled to a village in central Damghan in Semnan province and sampled the area's soil. He had already been caught filming a military district in Tehran, the report said.

The clip also showed a picture of a third foreigner, identified as Maciej Walczak, a university professor in Poland, who was visiting Iran as a tourist.

"He enters the country under the guise of a scientific exchange with a university, but as tourists, they go to Kerman and Shahdad region at the time of a missile test, where they take samples of soil, water, rock, salt and mud. He is the head of the biological and biotechnology department of the Copernicus University in Poland, which is associated with the Zionist regime," IRNA reported.

In May, Iran’s intelligence ministry said it had arrested two European nationals who plotted to foment chaos, social disorder, and insecurity across the country.

In April, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry arrested three agents working for Israel's Mossad spy agency in the country’s southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan.

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