Iran denies link to group arrested for spying in Saudi Arabia

Reuters News
Posted: May 22, 2013 8:04 AM

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran denied on Wednesday any link to members of a spying ring detained by its Sunni Muslim regional rival Saudi Arabia, according to Iranian media.

Saudi state media reported on Tuesday that officials had detained 10 people accused of spying for Iran after arresting 18 people in the same case in March.

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, accuses the Islamic Republic of stirring up unrest among minority Saudi Shi'ites. Tehran rejects that charge and has repeatedly denied any involvement in espionage in Saudi Arabia.

Iran Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi repeated that denial on Wednesday, in comments to the ISNA news agency.

"We expect the Saudi government to pursue the issue through correct channels rather than creating an atmosphere through the media," Araqchi said, according to ISNA.

Saudi officials said the 10 most recently arrested included eight Saudis, a Turk and a Lebanese citizen. Those arrested in March included 16 Saudis and an Iranian.

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Araqchi said Iran had requested consular access to the Iranian for the past two months but that "unfortunately there has been no response" from Saudi officials.

Saudi Arabia also accuses Iran of fomenting unrest in Sunni-ruled Bahrain, where majority Shi'ites have led pro-democracy protests. Iran denies this.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Jon Hemming)