Iran: Israel Arrested Spy to End 'Isolation'

Iran claims that Israel's arrest of an Iranian spy was a desperate act aimed at ending the Jewish state's international "isolation".

Elad Benari,

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

Iran claimed on Tuesday that Israel's arrest of an alleged Iranian spy was a "repetitive scenario" aimed at ending what it called the Jewish state's "isolation" within the international community.

"This is a repetitive scenario by the Zionist regime. Even Western media said the timing of the arrest and [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu's leaving (for the U.S.) was a plan to end its isolation," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted by AFP as having said in her weekly press briefing.

"Such desperate scenarios stem from anger, and we cannot assess them," Afkham said, adding that Israel was also isolated for its aggressive policies regarding Iran's nuclear drive.

The suspect, identified as 58-year-old Ali Mansouri, was arrested on September 11, but the arrest was under a gag order that was only lifted on Sunday.

Mansouri was arrested with a Belgian passport and, according to the Shin Bet internal security service, was sent to Israel by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. He was arrested at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion international airport.

The Shin Bet said Mansouri had enrolled in a "special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for numerous terrorist attacks around the world.”

He had been using the fake identity Alex Mans after being recruited last year, the agency said, naming his four alleged handlers as senior Iranian officials.

Shin Bet said that, under questioning, the suspect said he had been promised $1 million to use his position as a businessman to set up companies in Israel on behalf of the Iranian intelligence services to "harm Israeli and Western interests".

On Monday, an Israeli court remanded Mansouri in custody for eight days.

Mansouri was silent and motionless as he sat in handcuffs, wearing a brown prison uniform.

Israeli media quoted a police representative as telling the magistrates' court in Petah Tikvah, near Tel Aviv, that the decision to ask for the lifting of a gag order on the arrest was made at "a high level." 

A transcript of the hearing showed defense lawyer Michal Okabi remarking that usual practice was to lift reporting restrictions only after charges against a suspect had been filed.