The operating permit for Iran’s Mahan Air to fly in and out of Germany was cancelled on Monday, with German authorities accusing the airline of being involved in illegal espionage.
Deutsche Welle reported the government sanctioned the airline for helping the Iranian government spy. A German foreign ministry representative said the move was made to “protect Germany’s foreign and security policy interests.”
The move against the international carrier comes just one week after Prosecutors in Germany confirmed an army employee had been detained on suspicion of spying for the Iranian intelligence service.
The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the 50-year-old German-Afghan dual citizen, whose name was only given as Abdul Hamid S. in line with German privacy rules, was detained last Tuesday in the Rhineland in western Germany.
German news site Spiegel Online reported that the suspect spied on the army for years and had access to highly classified material including the German troops’ mission in Afghanistan.
Tehran has denied the charges, calling them an “unfounded claim” meant to harm Iran’s relationship with the European Union, although this has happened before.
In January 2018, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad provided crucial intelligence that resulted in raids on the homes of Iranian nationals suspected of being spies throughout Germany, as Breitbart Jerusalem reported.
The weekly German-language magazine FOCUS said that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S., were issued arrest warrants.
This is not the first time Mahan Air has been the focus of foreign intelligence services and accusations of spying.
In October, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against the carrier, saying the airline provides financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force in Tehran.
“Mahan Air’s close coordination with the IRGC-QF — secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds on its flights — reveals yet another facet of the IRGC’s extensive infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism,” David Cohen, the U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement then.
“Following the revelation about the IRGC-QF’s use of the international financial system to fund its murder-for-hire plot, today’s action highlights further the undeniable risks of doing business with Iran,” he added.
UPI contributed to this report
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