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Egypt accuses Iranian diplomat of spying

By Samira Said, CNN
Egyptian authorities accused the Iranian diplomat of trying to organize spy rings.
Egyptian authorities accused the Iranian diplomat of trying to organize spy rings.
  • Egypt says the Iranian diplomat was trying to organize spy rings
  • Iran denies the man was a spy and disputes reports of his arrest
  • Egypt
  • Iran

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- An Iranian diplomat will be deported within two days after his arrest on suspicion of espionage, Egyptian authorities said Sunday.

"The state security prosecutor detained and questioned Iranian citizen Qassem Hosseini after the Foreign Ministry confirmed he is an Iranian diplomat," said Aly Hassan, a judicial analyst affiliated with the justice ministry.

The prosecutor, Taher El Khouli, accused Hosseini of trying to organize spy rings in Egypt while working in the Iranian Embassy in Cairo as an undercover operative, Hassan said. Hosseini was arrested in his home, where officials found spying devices banned in Egypt, according to Hassan.

Hosseini asked a group of people to gather information for him about Egypt and the Persian Gulf states, including information about the economy, politics, and military, in return for money, Hassan said.

While Egyptian sources confirm the man was detained on charges of espionage, Iranian sources say he is free and deny he is a spy.

"Qassem Hosseini is currently in his office and doing his work," according to Iran's Fars News Agency, quoting an unnamed Iranian Foreign Ministry official who spoke to Al-Alam News Network.

Iranian embassy officials in Cairo refused to comment, telling CNN they were inundated with inquiries about the diplomat.

Hassan said the Iranian became active during the January 25 revolution, taking advantage of the security vacuum surrounding the uprising that toppled longtime Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian intelligence apparatus followed Hosseini's work and learned he was violating diplomatic protocols, Hassan said.

Mohamed Fadel Fahmy contributed to this report for CNN.