Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Germany Investigates Spy Activity in Europe Linked to Former Iranian Diplomat

Germany Investigates Spy Activity in Europe Linked to Former Iranian Diplomat

Saturday, 23 January, 2021 - 10:30

Germany is conducting extensive investigations to track down Iranian intelligence activity on its soil, revealed documents retrieved from ongoing probes.

Spy activity connected to Tehran is being traced through ledgers collected from a former Iranian diplomat’s car.

Asadollah Asadi had worked as a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna until he was arrested in Bavaria in 2018 for involvement in plotting the attempted bombing of an assembly organized by the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) outside Paris.

German authorities had handed him over to Belgium, where his trial is currently taking place in the port city of Antwerp alongside the trial of a Belgian-Iranian couple who were arrested for attempting to stage the attack.

When Asadi was arrested on July 1, 2018, the German police discovered many documents, including a black ledger in his car, with coded dots, which seem to be instructions on making bombs, a report by German TV’s Channel One said.

Instructions found in the black ledger are believed to have been intended for the arrested couple, whose verdict is expected to be announced this February.

The Channel One report said that the couple received hundreds of thousands of euros in the past several years for their cooperation with the Iranian secret service.

Among other documents discovered in Asadi’s belongings is a green checkered ledger with 200 pages, with receipts that show the diplomat has distributed cash among some individuals in different European countries.

The green ledger has 289 Latin and Persian notes, which mention tourist attractions, stores, hotels, and restaurants, with times and dates. These spots are believed to have been visited by Asadi.

German agents have figured out that this information involves around 11 countries including France, Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Belgium, Netherlands, and Italy, but there are also 144 notes about locations in Germany.

One note points to the entrance of the Hamburg Islamic Center, which is under German internal security surveillance. According to German intelligence, the center is used by the Iranian regime to “export revolution” and is known for supporting Lebanese militias.

When interrogated by German authorities, Asadi defended himself by saying that he was merely a tourist and that the sites found in the green ledger are for touristic spots he used to visit accompanied by his children.

Asadi, however, had been carrying several receipts that indicate suspicious cash payments. The recipients who have signed the receipts all have very common Iranian names and their identities are still unknown.

Some have received payments between 2,500-5,000 euros. Another individual has confirmed receiving a laptop. German police speculate that the payments are for espionage.

Sources at the NCRI have confirmed reported findings to Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence has a network of agents in Europe that are managed with the help of Iranian embassies, and the misuse of diplomatic capabilities,”Javad Dabiran, a spokesman for the Iranian opposition group, told Asharq Al-Awsat

“Asadi is the head of Iranian intelligence in Europe and used to run a network of spies,” Dabiran confirmed, adding that three agents linked to the ex-diplomat now face trial in Belgium.

“At least 40% of Asadi's meetings with his network of agents were held in Germany,” he noted.

Dabiran warned that there are various Iranian terrorist sleeper cells and spy rings across Europe and that they are handled by Iranian embassies.

Editor Picks