Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Iranian spies in Germany targeted by police raids

Nationwide searches have been carried out on the homes and offices of 10 suspects

German police raided premises linked to 10 suspects accused of having links with Iran. Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters
German police raided premises linked to 10 suspects accused of having links with Iran. Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

German police on Tuesday searched the homes and offices of 10 suspected Iranian spies following an investigation by the country's domestic intelligence agency, prosecutors said.

“We believe the suspects spied on institutions and persons in Germany on behalf of an intelligence unit associated with Iran,” said Frauke Koehler, a spokeswoman for the Federal Prosecutors Office.

The investigation was prompted by a tip-off from Germany’s domestic intelligence service, the spokeswoman said, adding that no suspects had been arrested.

She declined to comment on a report by German magazine Focus that the suspects were spying on Israelis in Germany.

No one could be immediately reached for comment at the Iranian embassy in Berlin.

Germany last month summoned Iran’s ambassador to warn Tehran against spying on individuals and groups with close ties to Israel, calling such acts an unacceptable breach of German law. The move came after the conviction of a Pakistani man went into force for spying for Iran in Germany.

No arrests were made during the raids, which were carried out in Baden-Wurttemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Berlin.

The German magazine Focus, which first reported on the searches, said that the 10 individuals were suspected members of the Al Quds Brigade, the external operations arm of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp.

Iranian agents are believed to regularly spy on Israelis, Jewish institutions, Iranian dissidents and other targets abroad.

Focus reported that the 10 persons are suspected of spying on Israeli and Jewish targets.

The Islamic Republic and its Lebanese shiite ally, Hezbollah, have long been accused of carrying out multiple deadly attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets abroad.

Last April, federal prosecutors filed charges against two men suspected of spying on the opposition People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) on behalf of Iranian intelligence.

The Paris-based MEK seeks to overthrow Iran’s theocratic government and is widely disliked inside the country, where it is labelled a terrorist organisation. The Iranian government blamed the group for stirring up unrest earlier this month.

Formerly listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and United States, the MEK has also been accused of carrying out covert operations on behalf of Israel and the United States.

Updated: January 17, 2018 09:01 AM