Iranwire – Two Iranian intelligence agents are among eight people arrested in the Turkish city of Van in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap a former Iranian military officer.
Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) and police busted the espionage network on September 24, security sources said on Wednesday.
According to the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), the two intelligence officers had a budget of $30,000 to recruit others into the plot.
Members of the network had then offered the wife of the ex-Iranian soldier – identified only by the initials ME – $10,000 to aid the abduction.
The MIT said the woman was also threatened by the group, who told her that her family in Iran would be harmed if she refused.
Turkish officers then swooped on the operatives as they tried to kidnap ME. At about 9pm local time on September 24 a Turkish citizen, identified by initials MEA, and an Iranian citizen, identified as SS, tried to enter his home and were arrested on the spot.
Six other Turkish citizens were also arrested. Their plan, the MIT said, had been to forcibly take the man back to Iran by car.
Dissidents Vulnerable in Turkey
This is not the first time the Islamic Republic has stood accused of trying to spirit Iranian nationals back to the country from Turkey.
Habib Chaab, the Iranian-Swedish then-leader of the Arab Struggle for the Liberation of Ahvaz movement, was lured to Istanbul and kidnapped last October. He then appeared on Iranian state TV “confessing” to acts of terror.
Turkish media later reported that in that case, the co-conspirators were led by a notorious drug trafficker, Naji Sharifi Zindashti.
The Islamic Republic has also assassinated several opponents in Turkey. In November 2019 a dissident ex-member of the IRGC Intelligence Agency, Massoud Molavi Vardanjani, was shot dead in the street in Istanbul.
A 43-year-old employee of the Iranian Consulate, Mohammad Reza Nasserzadeh, was later accused by Turkish officials of helping the killers escape with new, forged passports.
Previously Saeed Karimian, director of the Persian-language satellite and online TV network Gem TV, was gunned down in Istanbul in April 2017.