Saudi nuclear physicist ‘part of Iran spy ring’

The spy ring consists of 30 Saudis, an Afghan national who worked as a cook and an Iranian who speaks fluent Arabic

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More details have emerged on the ongoing trial of 32 people accused of spying for Iran in Saudi Arabia, with latest developments being a nuclear physicist allegedly among the accused.

A Saudi defendant on trial at the Criminal Court in Riyadh on Tuesday turned out to be a nuclear physicist, the Saudi Gazette reported.

The spy ring consists of 30 Saudis, an Afghan national who worked as a cook at a rice restaurant and an Iranian who speaks fluent Arabic.

Another Saudi defendant was a senior bank official. But neither his name nor the bank where he worked has been revealed.

On Tuesday, the third day of the court sessions, eight of the defendants stood before the court. They consisted of six Saudis, the Iranian and the Afghan whom the court provided with an interpreter.

The nuclear physicist told the judge that he had worked in China for six years. The Iranian suspect refused a lawyer and said he would defend himself.

The judge, however, advised him to avail of legal counseling provided by the court.

The general attorney, who read out the charges against the defendants, called for capital punishment for 31 defendants with the exception of the Iranian for whom he asked for a harsh and deterrent discretionary punishment.

The judge asked them to prepare their written replies for the next session. The charges also included establishing an espionage cell in favor of Iran, passing classified information to Tehran, traveling to Lebanon and other areas for meetings with Iranian intelligence elements and plotting to sabotage a number of vital economic and military installations in Saudi Arabia.

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on Feb. 25, 2016.

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