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
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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.


Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

Updated 8 min 59 sec ago
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Flight attendant detained by immigration on return to US

  • Selene Saavedra Roma immigrated illegally to the US from Peru as a child and was later married to an American citizen
  • Enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers”, she flew to Mexico for work and was detained due to lack of valid document

WASHINGTON: A Texas flight attendant who was enrolled in the government’s program for “Dreamers” flew to Mexico for work and was stopped by immigration authorities who forced her to spend more than a month in detention, her attorney said.
Selene Saavedra Roman, 28, who immigrated illegally to the US as a child, was released Friday from a detention center in Conroe, Texas, according to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Originally from Peru and married to an American citizen, she raised concerns with Mesa Airlines about her immigration status after being assigned to an international flight, attorney Belinda Arroyo said.
The airline assured her she would be fine, but she was stopped by US authorities on Feb. 12, when she returned to Houston, and was sent to detention, where she remained for more than five weeks, Arroyo said.
Soon after her lawyer, her husband, the airline and a flight attendants’ group publicly demanded her release, Saavedra Roman called to tell her husband she was getting out.
“She was crying and she said, ‘Please come get me,’” her husband, David Watkins, told reporters.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the agency was looking into her status. Earlier, the agency said Saavedra Roman did not have a valid document to enter the country and was being detained while going through immigration court proceedings.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency that oversees the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — declined to discuss the case. But the agency says on its website that participants who travel outside the country without a special document allowing them to do so are no longer covered by the program.
The agency no longer issues the document to the program’s enrollees, according to the website.
People enrolled in the program are commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act.
The Trump administration sought to end the Obama-era program but was blocked by litigation. New applications have been halted, but renewals continue for hundreds of thousands of immigrants already enrolled.
In a joint statement with the Association of Flight Attendants, Mesa Airlines chief executive Jonathan Ornstein apologized to Saavedra Roman and asked US authorities to release her, arguing that it was unfair to continually detain someone “over something that is nothing more than an administrative error and a misunderstanding.”
“She should have never been advised that she could travel,” Arroyo said. “It was a big mistake.”
Saavedra Roman — who is scheduled to appear before an immigration judge in April — attended Texas A&M University, where she met her husband.
Watkins said he was not initially worried about her assignment because they already obtained approval from Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for her green card as the wife of an American citizen. She has no criminal record and has long paid her taxes, he said, and she checked with her employer before the trip.
Then she was detained. He could visit her only once a week and could only see her through thick glass. She sounded hopeless, he said.
“I told her, ‘Even if you get deported to Peru, I’ll just go with you,’” he said to reporters. “Regardless of whatever happens in the future, I am not giving up. I am going to keep fighting.”
In a statement, the union representing Saavedra Roman and her colleagues said the event “highlights the urgency of commonsense immigration reform and resolution for America’s children who are part of DACA.”