Asia

Iran rejects Israel spy arrest as 'repetitive scenario'

Ali Mansouri, 58, arrested at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of espionage, arrives at the Petah Tikva District Court on the first day of his trial on September 30, 2013

Ali Mansouri, 58, arrested at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport on suspicion of espionage, arrives at the Petah Tikva District Court on the first day of his trial on September 30, 2013  (AFP)

Iran claimed Tuesday that Israel's arrest of an alleged Iranian spy was a "repetitive scenario" aimed at ending what it called the Jewish state's "isolation" within the international community.

Just hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Washington on Sunday, Israel???s Shin Bet security service announced the arrest on September 11 of a man it said was an Iranian spy carrying photographs of the US embassy in Tel Aviv.

"This is a repetitive scenario by the Zionist regime. Even Western media said the timing of the arrest and Netanyahu's leaving (for the US) was a plan to end its isolation," foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in her weekly press briefing.

She was referring to President Hassan Rouhani's recent diplomatic push in New York to mend Iran's international ties on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"Such desperate scenarios stem from anger, and we cannot assess them," Afkham said, adding that Israel was also isolated for its aggressive policies regarding Iran's nuclear drive.

Along with Western powers, Israel accuses Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, despite repeated Iranian denials.

The Jewish state has occasionally threatened to attack Iran's nuclear installations to impede the programme.

Shin Bet charged that the suspect, identified as 58-year-old Ali Mansouri with a Belgian passport, was sent to Israel by Iran's Revolutionary Guards and arrested at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion international airport.

It said Mansouri had enrolled in a "special operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards responsible for numerous terrorist attacks around the world".

He had been using the fake identity Alex Mans after being recruited last year, the agency said, naming his four alleged handlers as senior Iranian officials.

Shin Bet said that, under questioning, the suspect said he had been promised $1 million to use his position as a businessman to set up companies in Israel on behalf of the Iranian intelligence services to "harm Israeli and Western interests".

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