Iran Spy Gag Order Lifted After 'Order From Above'

Police say publication about Ali Mansour, accused of spying for Iran, was bought forward following higher orders.

Adam Ross ,

Mansouri in Tel Aviv
Mansouri in Tel Aviv
Shin Bet spokesman's office

Police said today (Monday) during the remand hearing of Ali Mansouri, accused of spying for Iran on Israel, that publication of the affair was sped up following a request from "Israel's highest echelons."

At the hearing in Petah Tikva, the Magistrate stated that the gag order on the case was to be removed a day earlier, after police filed a request asking that publication of the case be brought forward.

A police representative said that "Police made the request but the order came from the higher echelons."

Unnamed security sources quoted by Channel Two have said the timing of the news is not a coincidence, and is connected to the new developments and the warming in relations between the US and Iran. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet the US President in New York later Monday, and is expected to urge Obama not to ease sanctions on Iran, until it ends its plans to develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian media denies spy report

Meanwhile, the Iranian daily, Tehran Times, claimed Monday morning that the detention of Ali Mansour was "pure propaganda" timed to torpedo the "rapprochement Iran is seeking with the US and Western countries."

The newspaper accused Israel of employing a program of "damage limitation" after the recent phone call between President Rouhani with Barack Obama.

"This is the first step in an Israeli attempt to prevent the thawing of relations between Iran and the West, and is not surprising since Israel has always tried to demonize Iran," the newspaper said.

Sunday, the Shin Bet (Israeli internal security) and Israel Police announced the arrested on the night of September 11 of a Belgian citizen named Alex Mans, as he tried to leave the country through Ben Gurion Airport.

Following an interrogation police said it became clear that the detainee - a 55 year old man Belgian man - was of Iranian origin and held Iranian citizenship. Officials said his real name is Ali Mansouri and that he arrived in Israel to carry out a mission on behalf of Iranian intelligence.

The Shin Bet said Mansouri, a Belgian businessman, had been paid money to visit Israel, set up a business network and serve as a base for Iranian intelligence interests in Israel.  He was arrested with photographs of the US Embassy and Ben Gurion Airport in his possession, the Shin Bet said.