. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Germany Seeks Iran Spy Chief's Arrest

BONN -- German authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of Iran's intelligence minister, Ali Fallahiyan, in connection with the 1992 murder of exiled Kurdish leaders in Berlin, federal prosecutors said Friday.


"At the request of the federal prosecutor, the investigating magistrate of the Federal Court of Justice has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Iranian minister for intelligence and security affairs, Ali Fallahiyan, on suspicion of four counts of murder and of attempted murder," they said in a statement.


The warrant comes at an embarrassing time for Bonn, whose policy of maintaining a "critical dialogue" with Tehran has come under fire amid charges from Israel and the United States that Iran backed suicide bombings by Islamic militants in Israel.


German prosecutors have for months been investigating possible links between Fallahiyan and the gangland-style slayings of three leaders of the Iranian Democratic Party of Kurdistan, or DPK-I, and their translator in Berlin's Mykonos restaurant.


A fifth person was seriously wounded by gunfire.


The probe was prompted by allegations that Tehran ordered five suspected agents to carry out the attack, in which the DPK-I's secretary general and its chief representatives in Europe and Germany died.


The five suspects, Iranian Kazem Darabi and four Lebanese, are now on trial in Berlin for murder.


Evidence emerging at their trial reinforced strong suspicion that Fallahiyan's ministry directed the attack, the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karslruhe said.


"The suspect has been head of the ministry since 1989 and said in an interview with Iranian television a few weeks before the attack that his agency was targeting the murder victims' party and announced it would continue to pursue them in Iran and abroad," the office said, adding that the probe was continuing.


Tehran denies that Fallahiyan masterminded the killings, but an official from Germany's counter-intelligence agency testified in January that Iran's intelligence ministry was behind them.


The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper said Bonn had told prosecutors that issuing a warrant against Fallahiyan posed "the danger of being a serious detriment to Germany", and hoped it would be held back at least until the Mykonos trial ends.


But prosecutor's office spokesman Rolf Hannich denied the report, saying: "No one put pressure on us." An Iran expert for the opposition Greens party, Amke Dieter-Scheuer, said: "The issuing of an arrest warrant against Fallahiyan is a serious blow to the German government."


"We call on the government to finally make information it apparently has about the Iranian secret service's involvement in the Berlin murders available at the trial and thus contribute to clearing this up completely," she added.


Two members of Germany's BND intelligence agency slipped out of Tehran before the news broke, the FAZ said.


But it added that German officials were still concerned that German citizens could be seized in Iran as pawns to be exchanged, if the Mykonos defendants were convicted.