ARRESTS OF TWO ACCUSED SYRIAN SPIES IN GERMANY AND SUBSEQUENT EXPULSION OF FOUR SYRIAN DIPLOMATIC PERSONNEL

Two men, identified solely as Akram O. and Mahmoud El A., a Syrian national and a German-Lebanese dual citizen respectively, were taken into custody in Berlin on the 7th on suspicion of espionage targeting Syrian opposition groups operating in Germany. They are alleged to have carried out a systematic monitoring spanning a number of years. The suspects themselves had been under surveillance by the German domestic intelligence service. Approximately 70 officers conducted a search of both men’s apartments, as well as the homes of six purported accomplices, according to the Federal Prosecutors’ Office. No additional details were provided and the investigation is continuing.
The arrests occurred against a backdrop of worldwide disapprobation at Syria’s ruthless crackdown on domestic opposition forces, that has claimed more than 5000 lives in less than a year of political resistance. Two days later, the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle disclosed the expulsion of four Syrians attached to the embassy in Berlin. The three men and one woman were ordered to depart from Germany within three days. The Foreign Ministry cited activities not in keeping with their diplomatic position. Westerwelle would not elaborate on the grounds for the expulsions but did make mention of the arrests.


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