KUWAIT: Court sentences 3 to death for being part of Iranian spy ring
A Kuwaiti criminal court condemned two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national to death on Tuesday for being part of an Iranian spy ring, media reports say.
A Syrian national and a stateless Arab were also handed life sentences at the conclusion of the trial while an Iranian man and the daughter of one of the Iranians sentenced to death were acquitted, reported Agence-France Presse.
The three men sentenced to death and the Syrian were all serving in the Kuwaiti army back at the time of their arrest last year while the stateless Arab was said to be an ex-soldier in the country's military.
The men were charged with spying for Iran and with monitoring and providing information on Kuwaiti and U.S. military in Kuwait to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Iran has denied the accusations and the defendants reportedly said in court that they were forced to confess under torture.
When the Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas newspaper last year reported that the country's security services had dismantled a spy cell allegedly working for the IRGC, it sparked a ruckus in the Kuwaiti Parliament and strained diplomatic relations between Iran and Kuwait. Several Kuwaiti lawmakers began calling for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait and urged that the Kuwaiti envoy to Iran be recalled.
For its part, the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait denied the media reports about the dismantling of the alleged spy ring, and a high-ranking official dismissed the allegations as a "Zionist plot" to slander the image of the Revolutionary Guard.
Soon enough, Kuwait imposed a media ban on the case.
An estimated 45,000 Iranians live and work in oil-rich Kuwait, which has a considerable Shiite minority.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: A view of Kuwait city. Credit: Getty Images