Iranian diplomats expelled from Bosnia over spying allegations

Bosnia inside the former YugoslaviaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
In a move described as extremely rare, authorities in Bosnia have expelled two diplomats from Bosnian ally Iran over allegations that they are intelligence officers. However, the expulsion process took a while, which arguably reveals the complicated relationship between the two predominantly Muslim nations. The two diplomats were initially declared personae non grata in late April, when the Bosnian government ordered that they leave the country by April 30. According to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ministry of Security, the two envoys, Jadidi Sohrab and Hamzeh Dolab Ahmad, third and second secretaries respectively at the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sarajevo, had engaged in activities that were “in violation of their diplomatic protocol”. Word has it that the Bosnian order was issued shortly after Israeli intelligence informed the Bosnians that the two Iranian diplomats were in fact employees of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of the Islamic Republic of Iran (MISIRI). The Israelis also said that one of the two men had been spotted in India, Georgia and Thailand, all of which were sites of a simultaneous bombing campaign in February of 2012 against Israeli interests —though there is no public evidence that he had an active role in the attacks. On May 9, however, Bosnian media reported that the two Iranian diplomats were still in Sarajevo, more than a week since the expiration of the deadline they had been given to leave the country. Why the delay? According to Dr. John Schindler, Iran watcher and professor of national security affairs at the United States Naval War College, the move to expel the two Iranians had been “stymied by the establishment” in Bosnia, which remains decidedly pro-Iranian. Read more of this post

United States urges Iran to release alleged CIA spy

Amir Mirzaei HekmatiBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The United States has called on Iran to release an American citizen of Iranian descent, who appeared on Iranian state TV last Sunday and acknowledged that he was an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the pre-recorded interview, a man identifying himself as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, from Arizona, said he was arrested by Iranian counterintelligence while on a CIA mission. Speaking calmly in Farsi and English and —as Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper put it— appearing to be “not under duress”, Hekmati said the joined the US Army in 2001 and served in Iraq. He also said that he was trained “in languages and espionage” while in the US Army, and eventually worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the US Pentagon’s research and development wing. In 2009, after nearly a decade of intelligence training, he said he was recruited by the CIA and was specifically prepared for what intelligence operatives sometimes refer to as a ‘dangling operation’ in Iran.  The aim of the mission, said Hekmati, was to travel to Tehran, contact Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and National Security, and pose as a genuine American defector wishing to supply the Iranians with inside information about American intelligence. His immediate task was to gain the trust of Iranian authorities by giving them some correct information, in order to set the stage for a longer campaign of disinformation aimed at undermining a host of Iranian intelligence operations. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0064

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News you may have missed #0060

  • Ex-FBI translator tests US Justice Department again. Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds has spent seven years trying to get a court to hear her allegations that Turkish intelligence agents had penetrated her unit, the State Department, the Pentagon and Congress. This weekend she’s going to try again.
  • Bulgaria appoints new National Security Agency director. Tsvetelin Yovchev is the new head of the State National Security Agency (DANS). The Agency’s previous director, Petko Sertov, recently handed his resignation, allegedly after Bulgaria’s “American partners were said to have lost faith” in him. He will now serve as Bulgaria’s general consul in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
  • US paper sees power struggle inside Iranian intelligence. The Washington Times claims the recent firing of intelligence minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, two other Ali Khamenei loyalists and nearly 20 other high-ranking officials, has weakened Khamenei’s hold over the Iranian intelligence ministry and has strengthened the power of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

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