x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

UK freezes assets of suspected bomb plotters

Britain's Treasury has ordered that five men connected with the alleged plot to kill a Saudi ambassador have their assets frozen.

TEHRAN // Iran lashed out at "politically motivated" western accusations against Tehran yesterday as Britain's Treasury ordered that five men connected with the alleged plot to kill a Saudi ambassador have their assets frozen.

The UK finance ministry confirmed that it had acted under the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act, after ministers pledged action in response to the purported plan to kill Saudi envoy Adel Al Jubeir in a US bomb attack.

The decision does not necessarily mean that the five men hold assets in Britain. Two men have been charged by US authorities, who accused them of attempting to hire an alleged Mexican drug cartel member to carry out the killing.

The freeze included both men charged in the case - Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, a US citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, and Gholam Shakuri, an alleged member of Iran's Quds Force, who was at large in Iran.

Britain also froze the assets of three other men and the US last week acted against the same five men.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said the US allegations that Iranian officials had a hand in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington were "baseless" and that Iran had been shown no evidence to support the claims.

"We have not directly received anything yet, despite having asked twice for documents," he said. "If they claim something, they should provide proof."

Mr Mehmanparast also said new UN accusations of rights abuses and increased pressure over Tehran's nuclear programme were part of a western campaign against the Islamic republic following the US assassination plot allegation.

"The nuclear issue and human rights, as well as the newly expressed accusations, show that these moves are politically motivated with the sole aim of imposing more pressure on our nation," he said. He was responding to a new report by a UN special rapporteur on Iran's human-rights situation, Ahmed Shaheed, which highlighted the secret execution of more than 300 prisoners, among a raft of other abuses.

The document was to be presented to the UN General Assembly today.

The UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva lambasted Iran on Monday for failing to say how many prisoners were executed, for giving few details about the alleged crimes of those sentenced to capital punishment and for its poor women's rights record.

* Agence France-Presse with additional reporting by Associated Press