A Swedish police officer at the Landvetter airport near Gothenburg, Sweden.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Swedish police arrested a Stockholm-based Iraqi journalist for operating as a spy for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
British newspaper The Telegraph reported the arrest of Raghdan al-Khazali on Friday. According to the paper, al-Khazali “is suspected of spying on members of an Ahwazi opposition group, which has been repeatedly targeted by Iranian assassins in Europe.”
The arrest of al-Khazali comes on the heels of new European sanctions against Iran for murdering Iranian dissidents in the Netherlands as well as assassination plots in Denmark, Germany and France against opponents of the clerical regime in Tehran.
The Telegraph also reported that a Swedish court had ruled that al-Khazali is being held in pre-trial detention for “serious illegal intelligence activities against an individual.”
Hanna Lindblom, al-Khazali’s lawyer, said: “All I can say is that he denies what the prosecutor says,” adding “I cannot say anything else because I am under a gag order.” Al-Khazali works as the Stockholm correspondent for the Euro-Times.
Al-Khazali established contact with a television station in the Netherlands with reported ties to the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), in order to solidify his credentials as a critic of Iran. He managed to meet, however, with Qais Khazali, the leader of the pro-Iranian regime militia Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq, according to The Telegraph. The meeting raised red flags for Iranians dissidents.
“We asked: ‘How are you able to travel there, when you are against Iran?’ He didn’t have a very convincing answer,’” a source told the paper.
According to the British daily, “Khazali is believed to be a member of the same tribe as the militia leader, which could have guaranteed his safety in the area.”
The Dutch government said the Islamic Republic of Iran murdered Ahmad Mola Nissi, a leader of the ASMLA, in The Hague in 2017. The second victim, Ali Motamed, was killed in 2015 in the city of Almere.
Iran’s regime has targeted the Arab minority group Ahwazi from western Iran because of efforts by ASMLA to create an independent state.
The Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said in a letter to parliament in January that the Dutch secret service, “has strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin in Almere in 2015 and in The Hague in 2017.”
As a result of Iran’s alleged murder of the dissidents and a plot by an Iranian diplomat in Vienna to bomb a conference of Iranians dissidents in June 2019, the European Union slapped sanctions on an Iranian intelligence service and two individual Iranians. The sanctions were widely viewed as symbolic and lacking deterrence.
In October, the Danish authorities arrested a Norwegian citizen of Iranian background in Denmark for allegedly attempting to carry out a plot to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition figure on Danish soil.
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