New Delhi: As many as 17 ‘spies’ allegedly working for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been captured by Iran and some have been sentenced to death, the country’s Intelligence Ministry officials claimed on Monday. Also Read - Shabnam, First Woman To Be Hanged Till Death in Independent India

Iranian media quoted the ministry as saying that it had captured 17 “CIA spies” who had infiltrated “sensitive” and “vital” sectors of Iran including economic, nuclear, infrastructural, military and cyber areas; where they sought classified information. Also Read - 'Another Phase of Greatest Witch Hunt', Says Donald Trump After US Senate Acquits Him in Historic Impeachment Trial

The state media had also published names and photos of men with their family members claiming that they were the ‘CIA officers’ in charge of the spies. Also Read - Mossad Killed Iranian Nuclear Scientist Using A One-Ton Automated Gun: Report | Video

The announcement was a result of the spiralling conflict with the West since May this year, following stiffened US sanctions. Tensions in the Gulf escalated further as Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz last week citing the reason, “failing to respect the international maritime rules while passing through the strait.”

It was not clear, however, whether the arrests were a result of the case in June where Iran had claimed that a large cyber-espionage network allegedly run by the CIA was exposed and several US spies in different countries were arrested because of it.