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Iran denies ties to Afghan held in Germany for spying

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran on Saturday denied having any link to an Afghan-German man suspected of spying for Tehran, suggesting his arrest in Germany was part of efforts to mar EU-Iran relations, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Germany’s federal prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday that a 50-year-old Afghan-German dual national who worked for the German military had been detained on suspicion of passing data to an Iranian intelligence agency.

“While denying any link to this supposed individual …we are not surprised to hear such news amid baseless security charges concocted by those who seek to damage relations between Iran and Europe at this sensitive juncture,” IRNA quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying.

Qassemi did not elaborate, but IRNA referred to a German newspaper report that said the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency may have tipped off German army intelligence officials.

European signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have been trying to salvage it despite the withdrawal of the United States from the accord in May.

This month, the European Union froze the assets of an Iranian intelligence unit and two of its staff after the Netherlands accused Iran of two killings on its soil and joined France and Denmark in alleging Tehran plotted other attacks in Europe.

Iran has denied any involvement in those alleged plots, saying the accusations were intended to damage EU-Iran relations.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; editing by Jason Neely)

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