Israel claims capture of Iranian spy

Ali Mansouri, in an undated photo Shin Bet

JERUSALEM Israel's domestic security service says it has arrested a Belgian citizen of Iranian origin who it claims has admitted he was sent to Israel to spy for Iran.

Ali Mansouri
Ali Mansouri, in an undated photo
Shin Bet

A statement by the Shin Bet -- the Israeli equivalent of the FBI -- says Ali Mansouri, who entered Israel under the name Alex Mans, was sent by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force to set up business ties in Israel as a front for spying.

The Shin Bet said Mansouri made three visits to Israel since 2012 in the guise of a windows and roofing salesman. The Shin Bet said Mansouri was caught with photographs he took of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.

The Shin Bet said Sunday it arrested Mansouri three weeks ago at the airport.

Public defense lawyers representing Mansouri told the Jerusalem Post "that their client is a Belgian businessman who is not motivated by any pro-Iranian agenda."

Mansouri's attorneys claim he had been denied access to a lawyer for nine days, and the insisted "a more complex picture" of their client will emerge than the one Shin Bet is putting forward.

Spy games between Israel and Iran have taken a deadly turn in recent years, with Israel blaming several international incidents on Iranian spies, and Iran executing what it claims are Israeli spies with some regularity.

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