Germany conducts searches against 10 suspected Iranian spies

Above, file photo of German police. Federal Prosecutors Office said the raids took place early Tuesday at private homes and offices across Germany. (AP)
Updated 16 January 2018
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Germany conducts searches against 10 suspected Iranian spies

BERLIN: German authorities searched premises linked to 10 suspected Iranian spies following extensive investigations by the country’s domestic intelligence agency, prosecutors said Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Federal Prosecutors Office said the raids took place early Tuesday at private homes and offices across Germany.
“We believe the suspects spied on institutions and persons in Germany at the behest of an intelligence unit associated with Iran,” spokesman Stefan Biehl told The Associated Press.
He declined to comment on a report by weekly magazine Focus that the suspects were spying on Israelis in Germany.
The investigation was prompted by a tip from Germany’s domestic intelligence service, said Biehl, adding that no arrests had been made yet.
Germany’s Interior Ministry referred questions about the raids to federal prosecutors.
Last month, the German government protested to the Iranian ambassador following the conviction of an Iranian agent for spying. The Pakistani man was convicted in Berlin last year of espionage and sentenced to more than four years in prison. His targets included Reinhold Robbe, who headed the German-Israeli Association.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Iranian ambassador Ali Majedi was summoned just before Christmas and told that “spying on people and institutions with a particular relationship to the state of Israel on German soil is a blatant violation of German law.”


EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

Updated 48 min 38 sec ago
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EU hits Venezuela vice president Delcy Rodriguez with sanctions: Statement

  • EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes
  • In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist

LUXEMBOURG: Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez was among 11 senior officials hit Monday by EU sanctions over irregularities in the reelection of President Nicolas Maduro, the bloc announced.
“The persons listed are responsible for human rights violations and for undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela. The measures include a travel ban and an asset freeze,” the European Union said after its 28 foreign ministers backed the move at a meeting in Luxembourg.

After the 28 EU states pledged last month to "swiftly" punish Caracas with measures, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday formally approved travel bans and asset freezes against the 11, who were to be named later in the official announcement.
The EU said last month that Maduro's re-election "lacked any credibility" and did not meet even "minimum international standards" for free and fair polls.
In January, Europe added seven senior Venezuelan officials including the interior minister to its sanctions blacklist, after in November enforcing an embargo on weapons and equipment that could be used for political repression.
Maduro won 68 percent of the vote in the May election, which was boycotted by the opposition and condemned as illegitimate by much of the international community.