Iran accuses Britain of operating spy ring to undermine elections

 

The Iranian government claims it has captured a “spy ring” working for Israel and Britain which had planned to carry out “sabotage and assassinations” to undermine the impending national elections in the country.

Secret documents connected the 12 supposed agents to the UK and the Jewish state, according to the intelligence ministry in Tehran, which also claimed that “a remarkable amount of weapons including firearms and explosives” has been found.

Western diplomatic sources maintained the arrests had been stage-managed ahead of the polls for the presidency on 14 June which had become increasingly enmeshed in domestic recriminations over the banning of prospective candidates including all 30 women.

However, the move also comes at a time of rising tension in the region over Tehran’s support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war, continuing Israeli threats to carry out airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear programme and recent arrests of an alleged Iranian espionage network in Saudi Arabia.

Two “spies” were hanged in Iran a fortnight ago. Mohammed Heidari and Kouroush Ahmadi had been convicted, respectively, of working for Mossad and the CIA. The authorities stated other agents were being hunted and would meet the same fate.

Intelligence ministry officials claimed that the “British connection” among the current prisoners was linked to an “intelligence network operating out of the Indian subcontinent”; the head of the “terrorist cell” had been recruited by a “reactionary” Arabic country and he and his team were subsequently trained in Israel and given a list of targets to attack, some of which were designed to inflame relations between the majority Shia and Sunni communities.

Some of those detained, the Iranian authorities said, were members of the leftist Mujahedin Khalq Organisation (MKO) part of the exiled opposition movement which is no longer listed as a terrorist organisation by the US and EU. Tehran had accused Western governments, including the UK, of secretly backing MKO. Similar claims had been about Jundullah, Sunni opponents of the Iranian government, in Pakistan. The alleged British/Indian subcontinent link may, it is believed, be to do with this group.

Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, Iran’s prosecutor-general, said the Islamic Republic was “ready to foil the enemies’ plots” ahead of the election. The arrests were made public just after the Tehran government announced that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had, “with God’s help”, escaped from an “accident” which almost brought down his helicopter. The Office of the President praised the pilot for his handling of the aircraft during the “unexplained” problems but did not make any claims of sabotage.

Iran had repeatedly accused Israel and the US of carrying out spying missions and Mossad had been blamed for the assassinations of a number of nuclear scientists.

A week ago Saudi authorities arrested 18 people, 16 of them Saudi citizens, an Iranian, and a Lebanese on suspicion of spying for Tehran.

In a statement issued by 37 Saudi Shia leaders last week, including religious leader Ayatollah Hassan al-Saffar, they accused the government of using the spying charges to  escalate communal tensions and  to detract public attention from  other issues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 5
film
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss