UK spy trial outcome linked with Iran covert operation?

On November 17, intelNews reported on a possible covert infiltration operation by British agents along Iran’s southeastern border. Interestingly, Iran appeared to deny reports from Reuters that it had busted the undertaking. Now another British-Iranian spy scandal has been added to this interesting mix. A court in London has sentenced Daniel James (born Esmail Gamasai in Tehran, Iran) to 10 years for spying for Iran while serving as personal interpreter to General Sir David Richards, Britain’s top General and the most senior military commander of the multinational NATO force in Afghanistan. In late 2006, James made contact with Colonel Mohammad Hossein Heydari, military attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, sending him classified documents and stating “I am at your service”. He was arrested in December of that year. James was convicted of “a single count of communicating information useful to an enemy”, though the jury had to take the British government’s word that he was arrested “before he could become a fully-fledged agent”. What is interesting, in connection with the alleged covert operation by British agents in southeaster Iran, is that the British government suddenly decided not to try James under the full extent of the law in accordance with the Official Secrets Act. Instead, the prosecuting QC “applied for the charges to be allowed to lie on file, meaning there would be no further proceedings”. This has caused knowledgeable observers to question whether the decision to back off this case is in some way linked to the busted covert operation in southeaster Iran earlier this month. Should we be expecting a spy trade-off soon, or has one already taken place? Watch this space. [JF]

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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