Kuwait Expels Iranian Diplomats Over 'Terror' Cell

Kuwait shuts Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats: KUNA
Kuwait to shut down Iran's cultural and military mission, decrease number of diplomats

22 July, 2017

ISNA also said Kuwait is allowing only four of 19 embassy staff to remain in the country.

A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP around 15 Iranian diplomats were expelled. "Alireza Enayati, the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait, must leave within 48 days", the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) said.

These measures were taken after the issuance of a court verdict on what is known as the "Al-Abdali cell" and the involvement of some Iranian bodies in assisting and supporting the cell members, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted an official source in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying Thursday. "It was reiterated that Iran reserves the right to a reciprocal measure", Ghasemi added.

Twenty-one men - all Kuwaiti nationals except one Iranian - were convicted previous year on various charges of spying and planning terror attacks, but were then acquitted on appeal by a lower court and set free.

Kuwait also told Iran's cultural and military missions to shut down, following a court case that increased tensions between the Gulf Arab state and Tehran.

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Kuwaiti authorities busted what they said was a "terrorism" cell with ties to Iran in August 2015 and seized large quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives.

Kuwait has maintained good ties with Iran despite pressure from regional power Saudi Arabia to cut ties with Tehran. There, security forces found weapons and explosives, believed to belong to infiltrators from Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah. The only Iranian member of the cell was sentenced to death in absentia by the lower court early past year. The suspects were convicted by a lower court but the appeal process still continues.

They received sentences ranging from a few years in prison to, in one case, the death penalty, though the latter sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment.

In February, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Kuwait City a month after the emirate launched a dialogue with Iran in a bid to normalize Gulf-Iran relations.

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