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Iran arrests two European nationals for 'fomenting insecurity, chaos'

This file photo shows Iranian security forces.

Iran’s intelligence ministry says it has arrested two European nationals who had orchestrated a plot to foment chaos, social disorder, and insecurity across the country, pointing to growing involvement of European spy agencies in anti-Iran activities. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry said “foreign conspirators” had sent two of their seasoned agents to Iran to implement a “hybrid project consisting of soft and hard methods [of warfare].”

It did not specify the nationality of the duo but said they had a mission to form and train a network of people inside Iran to acquire knowledge of the problems faced by the country’s working-class citizens and misdirect their demands by creating a destructive wave of chaos and instability within the country.

The ministry also issued a stern warning to foreign conspirators and their backers, both inside and outside the country, saying the European pair was being closely watched by Iranian intelligence forces for a long time before their arrest.

Their detention comes as Iran’s relations with some European countries, such as Sweden and Belgium, have strained in the wake of the jailing of Iranian diplomats, which Tehran has termed a travesty.

The support for anti-Iran terrorist groups in Europe and the US has remarkably grown in the Western countries, with many Western spy agencies actively involved in aiding and arming them.

The issue has largely been ignored by global rights watchdogs, who otherwise drumbeat about so-called “human rights violations” in the Islamic Republic.

The illegal imprisonment and trial of Hamid Nouri, a former Iranian judiciary official, is one such case that makes a sheer mockery of the Western standards of human rights and lays bare their hypocrisy.

Nouri was arrested at the Stockholm Airport in 2019, upon arrival in Sweden, and held in solitary confinement for over two years.

He was accused of involvement in the execution of the members of the anti-Iran terrorist group Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) in 1988, a charge Iran has dismissed as bogus and fabricated.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers the detention and trial of Hamid Nouri, an Iranian citizen, illegal and demands his immediate release,” foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told his Swedish counterpart, Ann Linde, last week.

In this connection, Tehran earlier this month even summoned the Swedish ambassador to protest Nouri’s incarceration and his trial.

Another case pertains to Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who has been imprisoned in Belgium on flimsy terror-related charges. Recently, a Belgian court sentenced him to 20 years in prison on charges of plotting an attack against the members of MKO.

On Tuesday, Iran’s foreign ministry said the detention and trial of Assadi violated the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Iran has repeatedly denounced as “illegal”, “unfair”, and “politically motivated” the imprisonment and trial of both Assadi and Nouri – among many other Iranian nationals – in Western countries.

Western media outlets have tried to link these two cases with the trial of Ahmad Reza Jalali, an Iran-born resident of Sweden, who has been convicted in Iran of espionage for Israel, which led to the assassination of two Iranian nuclear scientists.

Jalali has been sentenced to death and is expected to be executed later this month.

Commentators say the detained Iranian officials are being used by the West as a bargaining chip to secure the release of spies and terrorists who enjoy the backing of Western and Israeli spy agencies.

The MKO was formerly designated as a terrorist group around the world. But the United States and the Europeans delisted it in recent years, amid growing strains in ties with Tehran.

Currently, the terrorist group, which is responsible for the killing of thousands of Iranian nationals, is based in Albania and enjoys the freedom of activity across the US and Europe, including in Sweden.

“Why does Sweden claim to be an advocate of human rights, the fight against terrorism, and a world of peace, security, and stability, while it is hosting terrorist groups?” Secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights Kazem Gharibabadi asked in an interview with Iran’s state broadcaster on Monday.

Sweden has been home to members of the terrorist MKO, Gharibabadi added.

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