Denmark warns of Tehran and Riyadh's intelligence activity after new Saudi spy arrests

Denmark warns of Tehran and Riyadh's intelligence activity after new Saudi spy arrests
Denmark has accused Saudi Arabia and Iran of 'bringing internal strife' into the country in the wake of a foiled assassination attempt.
2 min read
04 February, 2020
Denmark did not release details about the arrests [Getty]

Three members of an Iranian separatist group have been arrested in Denmark on suspicion of spying for Saudi Arabia in the wake of a failed assassination attempt.

The Scandinavian country has taken a hard-line against Saudi Arabia and Iran following arrests made in connection with a 2018 plot against an Iranian separatist some 60km from the capital Copenhagen.

Three members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz were arrested on Monday in Ringsted, near Copenhagen, suspected of spying for an unnamed Saudi intelligence service over a six year period starting from 2012.

Another Iranian was arrested in the Dutch city of Delft for allegedly plotting one or more terror attacks in Iran and for membership of a terrorist organisation.

Iran considers the group a "terrorist organisation" and blames it for a September 2018 attack on a military parade that killed 25 people in Ahvaz, Khuzestan.

Read More: Why Turkey wants to avoid taking sides in the US-Iran standoff

"We are talking about a very complex case where two countries - Iran and Saudi Arabia - are bringing internal strife into this country," Danish security service chief Finn Borch Andersen said.

"It is the view of the PET (the Danish Security and Intelligence Service) that the three people, in the period from 2012 to 2018, have been spying for a Saudi Arabian intelligence service," PET chief Finn Borch Andersen told reporters.

He went on to add that the three individuals "collected information about individuals in Denmark and abroad, and passed on this information to a Saudi intelligence service".

A pretrial detention hearing is due today. If found guilty, they face a potential life sentence, which in Denmark is on average 16 years.

No details were released about those arrested.

It is thought that the arrests could be linked to a 2018 police operation over an alleged Iranian plot to kill one or more opponents of the Iranian government.

An unnamed Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent was arrested in October 2018 on suspicion of helping an unspecified Iranian intelligence service "to act in Denmark" and of alleged involvement in the assassination plot.

The suspect had denied wrongdoing and is being held in pre-trial custody.

Denmark also arrested in absentia a member of the Iranian intelligence service on suspicion of espionage and complicity in the 2018 murder attempt.

The Iranian government denied any connection with the alleged plot.

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