Iranian paper calls Israel's arrest of spy a 'cheap shot'
After Israeli authorities announce arrest of Iranian citizen for espionage, Tehran Times says Israel is trying to undermine Iranian President Rouhani's successful U.S. trip • Israeli security officials concede timing of announcement not a coincidence.
Citing the fact that "Israel is always trying to demonize Iran," the Tehran Times, the self-proclaimed leading international daily newspaper in Iran, argued on Sunday that Israel had gone into "damage control mode over Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's successful visit to the United Nations."
The Shin Bet security agency revealed on Sunday that earlier this month, Israeli authorities had apprehended an Iranian man suspected of gathering intelligence for Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The suspect, Ali Mansour, was arraigned at the Petach Tikva District Court on Monday and his remand was extended by eight days.
According to the Tehran Times, the announcement, which coincided with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to the U.S. to warn the international community against falling for Iran's charms, was nothing more than an Israeli plot to "prevent the thaw in relations between Iran and the West."
The report claimed that the story received little coverage in the West because many political analysts saw the arrest as a "cheap shot" in efforts to undermine Rouhani's efforts to demonstrate Iran's true intentions to the Americans.
The paper said that the "recent conciliatory moves by Iran and the United States" -- especially a historic phone call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Rouhani on Friday -- had "clearly rattled Israel."
Israeli security officials have conceded that the timing of the announcement regarding the arrest, which had been under gag order until Sunday, was "not a coincidence, and has to do with new developments in Iran and the thawing of relations between the U.S. and Iran." But the Shin Bet stressed that the arrest and the subsequent announcement had nothing to do with Netanyahu's trip to the U.S. or his upcoming meeting with Obama.
Meanwhile Monday, the public defense office representing Mansouri issued a statement saying that "the suspect was arrested several weeks ago, and we were prevented from meeting with him until Sept. 20, when he met with his lawyers Michal Orkavy and Anat Yaari. As far as they know, [the suspect] is a Belgian citizen who is not motivated by an anti-Israeli or pro-Iranian agenda."
"The situation is far more complex than what is portrayed in current reports. Things will begin to become clearer in court after an indictment is filed and the defendant is given an opportunity to explain his position," the statement said.