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Iranian separatists found guilty of spying for Saudi Arabia

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Armed Police officers patrol outside the specially builty courtroom in Roskildes.
Armed Police officers patrol outside the specially builty courtroom in Roskildes.   -   Copyright  Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix via AP

Three members of an Iranian opposition group have been found guilty in Denmark of spying for Saudi Arabia.

The suspects were accused of promoting terror in Iran and passing on information for Saudi intelligence services between 2012 and 2020.

The court in Roskilde said the three had gathered information about individuals and organisations -- both in Denmark and abroad -- as well as on Iranian military affairs. They allegedly received up to 15 million kroner (€2 million) in payments.

The three men -- aged between 40 and 51 -- had pleaded not guilty but now face up to 12 years in prison. They are due to be sentenced in March, the court added.

The suspects were arrested in February 2020 while living in exile in Ringsted, 60 kilometres southwest of Copenhagen.

Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service say they started an investigation into the case in November 2018.

The suspects are members of an Iranian opposition separatist group, the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA). In 2018, one of the three men was the target of an alleged Iranian assassination plot on Danish soil.

Iran has regularly accused Saudi Arabia of supporting separatist groups, such as the London-based group ASMLA.

The trial of the three suspects also has links to the Netherlands, where police had arrested a 40-year-old man.

Dutch police said that an armed section of the ASMLA movement has carried out attacks against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as oil and gas fields.

Tehran has accused ASMLA of an attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz in September 2018, that left at least 25 people dead.

The opposition group has condemned the violence and denied that it was involved, but the Danish court heard that one of the three suspects had expressed his approval of the attack.

The lengthy trial was held behind closed doors due to the "relationship with foreign powers and for the safety of the accused and others", the Danish court said.