A Danish court on Wednesday sentenced three leaders of an Iranian Arab separatist group to between six and eight years in prison after they were convicted of spying for Saudi Arabia.
Two members of the ASMLA (Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz), which Iran brands a terrorist group, will also be deported after completing their sentence, the court in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, announced in a statement.
The movement’s leader Habib Yabor Kabi was sentenced to eight years in prison and his brother Tamim Farouk Beck to seven years.
Kabi’s son-in-law Jacob Mohamed, a Danish citizen, was sentenced to serve six years behind bars.
The court last month found the ASMLA leaders “guilty of creating an intelligence unit for a Saudi intelligence service over a period of several years”, based among other places at an address in the Copenhagen suburb of Ringsted.
In a case that saw tensions between Sunni Muslim kingpin Saudi Arabia and regional Shiite rival Iran play out on European soil, the men aged 40 to 51 were also convicted of “promoting terrorism” for supporting the activities of ASMLA’s armed branch.
The prosecution had sought 12 years in prison.
The separatist group supports self-determination for the Ahvaz area in Iran’s southwest, and its leaders live in Denmark and the Netherlands.
The trio has been held in custody in Denmark since February 2020, under special protection due to the nature of their case.
According to public broadcaster DR, which had access to materials from the closed-door trial, they had compiled a list of 100 individuals and companies to monitor and pass on to Saudi services.
The case dates back to 2018 when Kabi was the target of a foiled attack on Danish soil allegedly sponsored by the Iranian regime in retaliation for the killing of 24 people in Ahvaz in September 2018.
Tehran formally denied the attack plan in Denmark, but in 2020 a Danish court jailed a Norwegian-Iranian for seven years for his role in the alleged plot.
That case put Danish authorities on the trail of the trio’s ASMLA activities.
Almost a year-and-a-half later, Danish authorities announced they had charged the head of the ASMLA and two other exiled members in Denmark.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk