Iran's Zarif mocks US over reports of 'Israeli spying' on White House
Iran's foreign minister on Friday mocked the United States after reports emerged that its close ally Israel may have planted a number of surveillance devices near the White House over the past two years.
Online news outlet Politico reported on Thursday that US officials believe Israel was most likely behind several so-called stingray scanners, which mimic cell phone towers to intercept nearby calls and text messages, that were discovered in downtown Washington in 2017.
Several former national security officials told Politico that forensic analysis on the devices by the FBI and other agencies tied them to Israeli agents.
"It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible," a former senior intelligence official was quoted by Politico as saying.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif weighed in on the controversial report, mocking the US-Israel relationship.
"With a BFF in the #B_Team — who empties US coffers and takes US foreign policy hostage — SPYING on the US PRESIDENT, America doesn't need enemies," Zarif wrote on Twitter.
The Iranian diplomat has in the past used 'B Team' to refer to former US national security adviser John Bolton, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Both Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump have denied the reports of Israeli spying.
Speaking on a trip to Russia, Netanyahu said there was no eavesdropping on cell phones around the US presidency because he had forbidden spying against the United States.
"I have a directive: no intelligence connection in the United States, no spying," he said. "It's rigorously enforced without any exception. It's a complete fabrication."
Trump, who calls himself the most pro-Israel president in US history, told reporters at the White House that he doesn't believe the allegations.
"I don't think the Israelis were spying on us. I would find that hard to believe," he said.