Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Iranian diplomat accused of spying against Egypt

I edited this from stories in Bikya Masr, Ya Libnan and Al Masry al Youm:
An Iranian diplomat working at the Iran mission in Cairo was detained on Saturday, security sources told Bikya Masr. The diplomat, Qassem Hosseini, was taken in for questioning after a tip-off led investigators to the Iranian diplomat’s villa in Maadi. Early reports said that Hosseini was being held for “passing information” from the mission in Cairo back to his headquarters in Tehran.

Security sources confirmed that Hosseini was arrested and interrogated.

“The state security prosecutor detained and questioned Qassem Hosseini after the Foreign Ministry confirmed he is an Iranian diplomat,” Aly Hassan, a judicial analyst with the justice ministry said.

The Egyptian Supreme State Security Court prosecutor, Taher El Khouli, accused Hosseini of attempting to organize an espionage network in Egypt while working at the Iranian mission in Cairo. The Iranian diplomat is being called an “undercover operative” by the prosecutor, who also said that investigators found spying devices in his home, which are banned in Egypt.

The prosecutor’s office reported that Qassem Hosseini became active in collecting intelligence during the 18-day revolution which ousted Egypt’s president and authoritarian regime from power. The diplomat “took advantage of the security vacuum” surrounding the uprising, El Khouli told reporters. Egyptian investigators followed Hosseini for several weeks and found that he had violated diplomatic procedure and protocols.
Egyptian security officers found documents, a computer and spying devices banned in Egypt at Husseini’s apartment, a security official told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday.
The investigation also revealed that al-Husseini had asked his sources to offer Iranian financial backing to popular Egyptian political organizations and movements in order to strengthen ties with them.
In late April of this year, Kuwait and Bahrain expelled several Iranian diplomats after a court verdict in Kuwait linked Iranian diplomats with a spy ring operating in Kuwait. The diplomats were accused of having direct connections with the espionage network while also reporting back to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.