Envoy 'paid policeman to spy on Saudi dissidents'

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The Independent Online

A Saudi Arabian diplomat paid a corrupt policeman thousands of pounds to spy on dissidents of the Gulf state living in London, a court heard yesterday.

A Saudi Arabian diplomat paid a corrupt policeman thousands of pounds to spy on dissidents of the Gulf state living in London, a court heard yesterday.

Pc Ghazi Kassim, 53, who has been dismissed by the Metropolitan Police, was paid at least £14,000 to illegally obtain information on individuals, including the radical cleric Abu Hamza.

Kassim pleaded guilty yesterday at the Old Bailey to three charges of misconduct in public office and will be sentenced next month.

He admitted to gaining information about people of Middle East origin for Dr Ali al-Shamarani, a third secretary at the Saudi Arabia Embassy, in London, in return for payment. The Yemen-born officer used a police computer to research the registration number of the car of Saudi dissident Muhammad Al-Massari, who has claimed political asylum in the UK.

The court was told Mr al-Shamarani flew out of Britain shortly before Kassim was arrested in July, last year.

Kassim was remanded on conditional bail for reports before sentencing on 4 October.