Germany reprimands Iran for anti-Israel spying on its territory

Mustufa Haidar Syed-Naqfi at the start of his trial in Berlin in March of last year. (AP)
Updated 09 January 2018
0

Germany reprimands Iran for anti-Israel spying on its territory

BERLIN: Germany said it had summoned Iran’s ambassador to reprimand Tehran against spying on individuals and groups with close ties to Israel, calling such acts a completely unacceptable breach of German law.
The move comes after the March conviction of a Pakistani man for spying for Iran in Germany went into force.
Mustufa Haidar Syed-Naqfi was convicted of gathering intelligence on Reinhold Robbe, the former head of the German-Israel Friendship Society, and an Israeli-French economics professor in Paris, for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.
The foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to deliver the unusually sharp rebuke once the German constitutional court rejected his appeal. The meeting took place on Dec. 22 but was not disclosed until now.
“Spying on people and institutions with special ties to the state of Israel on German soil is an egregious violation of German law,” a ministry official said.
The official said Philipp Ackermann, acting director of the foreign ministry’s political section, had told the Iranian ambassador that “such activities would not be tolerated and were completely unacceptable.”
News of the meeting comes days before the foreign ministers of Iran, Germany, France and Britain are due to meet in Brussels to discuss a 2015 landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, and growing concerns about Iran’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.
Germany, which helped negotiate the nuclear deal, has sought to balance its interest in expanding trade ties with Iran with its strong commitment to human rights.
It has played a key role in European efforts to persuade Washington to keep the nuclear accord in place, an issue that will come up again late this week, when US President Donald Trump must decide whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the agreement.
Germany’s domestic intelligence service, which handles counterespionage, highlighted Iran’s spying activities in its annual report in July, noting that Tehran was focused heavily on Israeli or pro-Jewish targets.


Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

Updated 22 March 2019
0

Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

  • The second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North
  • The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable”

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.