Germany summons Syrian ambassador following spy arrests

Ferhad AhmaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Germany has summoned the Syrian ambassador to Berlin after German counterintelligence officers arrested two Syrian nationals on espionage charges. The two men, believed to be employees of Syrian intelligence, have been identified as 34-year-old Akram O., a Syrian national, and Mahmoud El A., a German citizen of Lebanese descent. Both were arrested early on Tuesday morning, during a sting operation involving over 70 German counterintelligence operatives, who searched the suspects’ apartments. According to a statement by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the two men are “strongly suspected” of having engaged “for years” in systematic surveillance against Syrian political figures in Germany, with particular focus on expatriate groups critical of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The statement added that German authorities are investigating the apartments of six alleged accomplices, suspected of assisting the two alleged spies. According to media reports, the counterintelligence operation was authorized after Ferhad Ahma, a Syrian-born elected official of the Green Party, was severely beaten at his apartment on December 26, by two men posing as German police officers. The Green Party launched a complaint with German police, suspecting that the two thugs were in fact Syrian government agents trying to intimidate Ahma, who is known in Germany for his strong criticism of the al-Assad regime. In announcing the diplomatic protest, German Minister of Foreign Affairs Guido Westerwelle told journalists that “any apparent activity against the Syrian opposition in Germany is in no way tolerable and a violation of [German] law”. IntelNews readers will remember that, last summer, American government officials warned Syria’s ambassador to Washington to stop his diplomats from spying on Syrian anti-government activists operating in the United States. The warning was issued following what appeared to be confirmed sightings of Syrian diplomats conducting technical surveillance against Syrian and American citizens participating in demonstrations and other legal political activities in several US cities.

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