Iran on Sunday announced that it had caught and tried a man spying for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.
The man, whose identity was kept secret, was sentenced to death after prosecutors produced "spying equipment" for the presiding judge.
But senior Western analysts seriously doubted the veracity of the claims.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Professor Raymond Tanter of the Iran Policy Committee noted that such trials are usually put on when the Iranian regime is about to crack down on local opposition.
"The Iranian regime typically arrests people on trumped-up spying charges and stages show trials," explained Tanter. "Such trials create an air of national security crisis that Teheran uses to justify brutal crackdowns on Iranian oppositionists."
The Iran Policy Committee is a US-based organization made up of senior political, military and academic figures who believe Washington should be doing more to support Iranian opposition groups.