Britain expels Iraqi for London spying

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An Iraqi diplomat is being expelled from Britain for passing information to Baghdad which could have been used to kill Iraqi dissidents in London

The Foreign Office announced yesterday that Khamis Khalef Al Ajili, the administrative attache at the Iraqi Interest Section of the Jordanian Embassy in Kensington has been declared persona non grata and has been given until 31 October to leave the country with his family. He is accused of "activities incompatible with his diplomatic status". This usually means spying and, in this case, is understood to mean surveillance and targeting of Iraqi dissidents in the UK.

Jeremy Hanley, the Foreign Office minister responsible for the Middle East, took the decision after security services had apparently obtained evidence that Mr Ajili was acting in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions. Resolution 687, passed after the end of the Gulf war, requires Iraq to stop acts of terrorism, including those against Iraqi dissidents in foreign countries.

Baghdad has long been concerned about opponents of President Saddam Hussein's regime operating abroad. Two months ago, the President's two sons-in-law fled to Jordan, joining hundreds of Iraqis round the world who are working to overthrow the regime.

Diplomatic relations between Britain and Iraq were broken off in February 1991 after the start of the Gulf war. Britain has no diplomats in Iraq but, under the Vienna convention, both countries retained the right to maintain an interest section in the other's capital. Yesterday the Foreign Office said it remained undecided about whether it would allow a replacement for Mr Ajili.

Mr Ajili, known to belong to Iraq's Directorate General of Intelligence, arrived in August 1994. He was one of three Iraqis at the Jordanian embassy. The Iraqi staff needed special permission to travel out of London and, in the words of a security source yesterday: "We keep a close eye on their activities."

There is a substantial number of Iraqi exiles in London and Manchester. The exact number of dissidents who are prominent enough to be of interest to Baghdad is unknown but they include members of the exiled Iraqi National Congress and the Supreme Council for Islamic Resistance in Iraq.