Israel holds 'Iranian spy' as Netanyahu prepares to warn on Iran

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 3:33am

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service said it had arrested a Belgian citizen of Iranian origin whom it claims was sent by Iran to spy on Israel under the guise of a windows and roofing salesman.

The announcement coincided with a trip by Israel's prime minister to the US aimed at casting doubt on Iran's recent overtures to the West.

The Shin Bet said the accused spy, identified as Belgian-Iranian businessman Ali Mansouri, had admitted to interrogators that he was recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force last year and sent to Israel to set up business ties as a front for spying on Israeli and Western targets. The Shin Bet said Mansouri's Iranian handlers promised him US$1 million.

The Shin Bet said Mansouri entered Israel on September 6 with a Belgian passport under the name Alex Mans, and that they arrested him five days later as he prepared to board a flight to Europe. He was found with photos of sites throughout Israel "that interest Iranian intelligence", including the US embassy in Tel Aviv, the Shin Bet said.

The security service released amateurish photographs it said Mansouri took: a rooftop view of the embassy taken from a nearby building and the baggage claim hall of the airport.

Iranian state TV called the arrest an attempt at "anti-Iranian propaganda" before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama.