An Israeli court has remanded in custody a man suspected of spying for Iran. Ali Mansouri was reportedly arrested while carrying photos of the US Embassy in Tel-Aviv. Israeli officials accuse him of collecting “intelligence for a possible terror attack.”
News of Mansouri’s detention was revealed on Sunday, and the
decision was made at "a high level,” according to an Israeli
police representative. The court remanded him in custody for
eight more days, although the 55-year-old has not yet been
Iranian-born Mansouri, who holds a Belgian passport and was
traveling under the guise of Belgian Alex Mans, was detained at
Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport on September 11,
Israel’s Shin Bet security service reported.
Shin Bet also stated that the suspect confessed to having been
promised US$1 million to use his position as a businessman to set
up companies to "harm Israeli and Western interests.”
Several websites and a Facebook page were created to make his
business seem legitimate, Mansouri added.
However, police said that Mansouri hadn't disclosed all
information concerning his activities in Israel, and therefore
asked that his remand be extended.
Shin Bet also stated that the suspect’s picture-taking outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv was regarded as an attempt "to collect intelligence for a possible terror attack.”
Mansouri’s lawyer has refuted the allegations: "The
apocalyptic picture that the Shin Bet is painting is a lot more
complicated and the attempt to claim that our client came here in
order to carry out attacks in Israel is far from reality and
without foundation,” he said.
Mansouri himself did not make any comments during his court
Local media expressed suspicions over the news, as the arrest
announcement coincided with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
flight to the US for a visit focused on Iran's nuclear program.
"Security services do not hurry to reveal, of their own
volition, recent espionage affairs," defense commentator Alex
Fishman wrote for Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot.
"An espionage network is too important an operational card to
trade with publicly, unless there is a particularly important
operational or diplomatic interest that requires such
disclosure," he added.
The commentator also pointed out that an exact diplomatic
interest may be behind the move – an attempt to embarrass Iran’s
leadership following a successful PR campaign carried out in the
US by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.