Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over spy 'terror' cell

Jul 22, 2017, 00:43
Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over spy 'terror' cell

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said dismessed Kuwaiti officials' accusations as "baseless and false", adding that Iran has given a note of protest to the Kuwaiti charge d'affairs.

Iranian state television said Kuwait's Foreign Ministry summoned Tehran's ambassador and ordered the number of diplomats to be cut from 19 to four and the closure of the cultural and military missions.

"The government of the state of Kuwait chose to take actions in accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran", acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah said in a separate statement.

Twenty-one men - all Kuwaiti nationals except one Iranian - were convicted past year on various charges of spying and planning terror attacks, but were then acquitted on appeal by a lower court and set free.

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On Wednesday, Kuwait's Interior Ministry published photos of 16 people who were sentenced in absentia by a court in the Abdali cell case.

The KUNA report further said the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait has been notified.

He urged the regional states to maintain friendly relations with Iran because they "need it".

It has also asked Tehran to shut down its technical offices in the country, Reuters reported on Friday.

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In a separate statement, acting Information Minister for Kuwait, Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah, stated that: "The government of the state of Kuwait chose to take actions in accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran".

In August 2015, Kuwait said it had busted the 26-member cell and seized arms, ammunition and explosives from them. There, security forces found weapons and explosives, believed to belong to infiltrators from Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

The supreme court, whose rulings are final, overturned their acquittal on June 18 and sentenced them to between five and 15 years in prison.

"The government of the state of Kuwait made a decision to take actions in accordance with diplomatic norms and in abidance with the Vienna conventions with regards to its relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran", acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah said in a separate statement.

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