Army corporal jailed for 10 years for spying

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The Independent Online

A salsa-dancing army corporal who was the personal interpreter to Britain's top general in Afghanistan was jailed for 10 years today for spying for Iran.

Daniel James, who had access to the highest echelons of the Nato mission in Kabul, was caught red-handed betraying his country in a series of coded emails.

The Iranian-born soldier, a flamboyant fantasist who styled himself "General James", believed he had been denied promotion because of racism and jealousy.

He told one colleague: "They will have their comeuppance."

James also needed money. He was £25,000 in debt and had four mortgages on flats in Brighton - although he later claimed he would not give away secrets for a million pounds.

But his treachery could have cost the lives of British soldiers. Prosecutor Mark Dennis QC said it was "the height of betrayal".

James worked for General David Richards, who has since been appointed the next head of the British Army, and at the time headed the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, a 37-nation coalition comprising 35,000 troops.

Sentencing James today, Mr Justice Roderick Evans said: "The gravest part of your offending and what made this case unique was that you engaged in this activity when you were actually serving in a war zone."

But the judge said James was a "ripe target" for the Iranians because of his nationality, disenchantment with the Army and "narcissistic" personality.

He agreed with Colin Nicholls QC, defending, that James should never have been put in the sensitive position to which he was appointed.

James, a Territorial Army soldier who came to Britain as a teenager, showed no reaction and bowed to the judge as he was taken down.

Earlier this month the 45-year-old, of Cliff Road, Brighton, was found guilty of communicating information useful to an enemy under the Official Secrets Act.

The charge related to emails he sent to Colonel Mohammad Hossein Heydari, military attache at the Iranian embassy in Kabul.

Today prosecutors announced they would not proceed with a re-trial on two further charges that jurors in the trial were unable to agree a verdict on.

One of them, also under the Act, related to a USB memory stick containing secret documents that was found in his possession, while a third alleged misconduct in public office.