Israeli arrested in Nigeria, FM claims not for spying

Man one of three foreigners charged with illegally obtaining classified defense documents.

October 11, 2006 01:32

A Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed Tuesday that an Israeli was among three foreigners detained in Nigeria this week, but he denied reports that the arrest had any connection to spying. The ministry spokesman said the alleged offense was "purely commercial" in nature and was "not political or anything related to espionage." According to foreign media accounts, suspects from Israel, Ireland and Romania were charged Tuesday with illegally obtaining classified defense documents. Court papers allege the men worked with three Nigerian Defense Ministry officials to obtain information "related to a protected place." The information was to be passed on to the defense attache at the Russian Embassy in Nigeria, according to the court papers. Calls to the embassy Tuesday afternoon went unanswered. The three foreigners, plus three Nigerians, were brought to court in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, under tight security. Each pleaded innocent. Judge Binta Murtala-Nyarko set the next hearing for November 21 before returning the suspects to prison. The six face up to 14 years in jail if convicted. Prosecutors said the alleged offenses were committed with a Russian and another Irish man now at large.

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