Bahrain expels Iran embassy official over 'spy links'

AFP , Tuesday 26 Apr 2011

Bahrain-Iranian relations are further complicated by the expulsion of the latter's diplomatic mission from the island kingdom

Iran
A female demonstrator reads the Quran, Islams' holy book, during a sit-in protest against the Saudi, Bahraini and Yemeni leaders in their crackdown on their opposition, in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Friday 22 April 2011. (AP)

Bahrain has declared the second secretary in the Iranian embassy here persona non grata and ordered him to leave within 72 hours due to his alleged links with a Kuwait spy ring, state media said.

The BNA news agency named the official as Hujatullah Rahmani and said Iran's charge d'affaires in Bahrain was summoned on Monday to the foreign ministry where the decision had been conveyed to him.

Iran said it reserves the right of a "reciprocal reaction" to the expulsion.

"The action taken by the Bahrain foreign ministry aims to divert attention and neglect the realities... these kind f baseless accusations are contrary to good neighbourly relations... and are in line with the divisive intention of foreigners," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted as saying on the state television's website Tuesday.

Bahrain's foreign ministry had on Monday affirmed its "rejection of any interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)," the BNA report said.

It also urged the Islamic republic to "end its irresponsible actions, which constitute a grave violation of the norms and principles governing international relations and a threat to regional security and stability."

Earlier this month, Iranian state television said three of Tehran's diplomats and an embassy employee were expelled from Kuwait for alleged links to a spy ring working for Tehran, reportedly ever since the US invasion of Iraq.

Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah later charged that the diplomats had proven links to a suspected spy ring, three members of which a Kuwaiti court condemned to death on March 29.

The expulsions come during heightened tensions between Gulf Arab states and their Iranian neighbour across the water. In addition to Kuwaiti allegations of Iranian spying, Bahrain has also accused Iran of meddling in its affairs.

The March 14 military intervention of a Saudi-led Gulf force in Bahrain, which freed up the tiny Sunni-ruled kingdom's security forces to crush a Shiite-led pro-democracy protest movement, sparked a war of words between Iran and its Arab neighbours.

A crackdown launched by the Bahraini government in the aftermath of the pro-reform uprisings further complicated relations between the small island kingdom and Tehran.

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