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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

Iranian ambassador to Kenya caught up in criminal investigation

Iran's diplomat is suspected of being part of a plot to release terror suspects

Sayed Mansour Mousavi, (L) and Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammed, both Iranian nationals, are handcuffed moments after being sentenced to life in prison on terror-related charges. AFP
Sayed Mansour Mousavi, (L) and Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammed, both Iranian nationals, are handcuffed moments after being sentenced to life in prison on terror-related charges. AFP

Iran’s ambassador to Kenya is under criminal investigation over a plot to free two terror suspects from police custody, local Kenyan media reported.

Ambassador Hadi Farajvand is suspected of looking for high-level contacts in government to help him release Iranian nationals Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi. The men are thought to be members of the Quds Force.

The two Iranians were arrested in 2012, when they travelled to Kenya as tourists. They were sentenced to life in prison in 2013, after being accused of plotting a terror attack in the African country.

Their sentences were later reduced to 15 years in the court of appeal. They were then released after three judges appealed that sentence, but the appeal was challenged in the Supreme Court. The Kenyan authorities decided to hold the suspects util a final verdict.

Police believe it’s the long-winded process in the Kenyan courts that led the Iranian diplomat to seek other ways to ensure the two citizens release. Authorities think the ambassador may have turned to two Kenyans who claimed to be interior ministry officials to help him secure the release of his countrymen.

Officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested Kenyan-nationals Wesley Kiptanui Kipkemoi and Shemgrant Agyei, for allegedly defrauding the ambassador of an unknown amount of money by claiming to be Interior Ministry officials who could help him.

The ambassador was seen on CCTV walking into a travel agency to book tickets for the detainees after striking the deal with the fraudsters. He then cancelled them when he realised the plan.

Iran's Quds are accused of supporting terrorist organisations and of seeking to destabilise countries in the wider region. Most recently, the US and GCC members have imposed sanctions on senior members for trying to undermine the western-backed Afghan government.

Updated: February 25, 2019 07:59 PM

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