Iran creates new spy agency to fight protests

Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has created a powerful new intelligence organisation to try to quell any further public unrest in the wake of June's disputed election, an exiled Iranian opposition group said yesterday.

The new organisation, responsible for intelligence and security, is an off-shoot of the Revolutionary Guards and will report directly to the Supreme Leader's office, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a Paris-based group that has followers in Europe and claims many in Iran.

The shift is the largest overhaul of the intelligence structure since 1989, when Iran's first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, died, the NCRI believes, and reflects the depth of the leadership's concern about post-election protests.

"Although the mullahs have made public declarations about the new organisation, they have nonetheless concealed its real dimension and true nature," Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the NCRI, told a news conference in Brussels. "Its command structure is linked directly to Khamenei. Its formation marks an unprecedented transformation for the regime's intelligence and suppressive apparatus."

The organisation, called the Intelligence Organisation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, took shape in June, soon after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a vote his opponents said was rigged, a charge the authorities reject.

Ms Rajavi said work on the new body was completed last month, and that the information came from sources in Iran. Iranian officials have yet to comment on reports of a revamped intelligence organisation.

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