A once-successful Iranian businessman says he is lucky to be alive after being tortured by the Iranian authorities into a false confession of spying for Israel and assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists - a crime punishable by hanging.

The story of Mazyar Ebrahimi, who now lives abroad, also sheds a light on a bitter rivalry between Iran's intelligence agencies, as BBC Persian's Jiyar Gol reports.

I met Mazyar Ebrahimi in Frankfurt in July, several months after he called me out of the blue from Germany. I was surprised, as I had assumed he had been executed long ago.

This is because back in 2012, he and 12 other people appeared on Iranian state television to admit a range of charges that carried the death penalty.

Looking straight at the camera, they said they had been trained in Israel before returning to Iran and assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists.

The script was written by the Ministry of Intelligence - one of Iran's two main intelligence agencies - who also claimed to have dismantled an Israeli spy network.

In his hotel room, we watched a video of his alleged confession.

Still visibly shaken after all these years, Mazyar Ebrahimi says he agreed to "confess" after being tortured non-stop for about 40 days and nights.

"The interrogators were hitting the soles of my bare feet with a thick electric cable," the 46-year-old recalls.

"They broke my foot. The beatings continued for seven months."

Before his arrest by the intelligence ministry, Mr Ebrahimi ran a company that specialised in setting up TV studios. He frequently travelled abroad for the job.

He believes one of his competitors falsely accused him of spying for foreigners.

In 2010-12, four Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, and the Iranian intelligence service was under huge political pressure to find the perpetrators.

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