JEDDAH — Investigations have shown that members of the spy ring arrested last week were working for Iranian intelligence, Ministry of Interior spokesman said Tuesday.
“Preliminary investigations based on material evidence and confessions from the detainees prove that members of the arrested espionage group had direct links with Iranian intelligence services,” said Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki.
“These elements,” the spokesman said, had regularly received sums of money in return for information and documents on important installations during the spy operation in the interest of these agencies.
“Investigations are still ongoing with members of this cell and legal procedures will be taken against them,” the Saudi Press Agency reported the official as saying.
Earlier, on March 19, Al-Turki disclosed that authorities had dismantled an 18-member spy cell and the arrested members included 16 Saudis, one Iranian and one Lebanese citizen. The cell members were arrested from Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province. They were apprehended after the ministry received information about spying by a number of Saudis and expatriates in the country for the benefit of a particular country.
“They were collecting information about vital sites and installations in the Kingdom and contacting with intelligence agencies of that country. The suspected spies will be investigated and transferred to court for legal action,” the spokesman said then adding that the arrests were made through simultaneous and coordinated operation.
On Monday, Al-Turki said that Saudi Arabia did not name the country because it needed “hard evidence” to do so. “We cannot ask a state to stop conspiring against us... announcing the name will not stop this conspiracy,” he said.
He added that Saudi Arabia does not point fingers hastily or arbitrarily and only does so after conducting an investigation.
The Kingdom, he added, prefers to deal with such issues diplomatically.