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Iran arrests 7 linked to U.S.-funded radio station

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has arrested seven people linked to a U.S.-funded Farsi-language radio station, Radio Farda, for allegedly fomenting unrest, and accused some of the suspects of working for American spy agencies, Iranian state media reported Sunday.

The official IRNA news agency and Iran's state radio both cited an Intelligence Ministry statement saying the suspects played a role in violent anti-government demonstrations in Tehran on Dec. 27. On that day, at least eight people were killed and hundreds were arrested during clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

The violence was the worst since authorities launched a harsh crackdown immediately after Iran's disputed presidential election in June.

IRNA quoted the ministry statement as saying "some of them have been officially hired by the U.S. intelligence agencies." State radio said the suspects were trained outside of Iran in sabotage, disturbing public order, spreading rumors and overthrowing a government by soft means.

It also said the seven planned to take part in opposition demonstrations expected on Feb. 11, when Iran marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

The arrests may be part of a government effort to discredit the opposition. Iran's hardline rulers frequently accuse its opponents of being "stooges" of the country's enemies and of trying to topple the Islamic system.- AP

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