Foreign Ministry slams Iranian embassy over public statements on Iran-linked terror cell – ‘Families claim detainees have been tortured’

These images released by the Interior Ministry on Aug 13, 2015 shows a cache of weapons, explosives and ammunition found at a farm in Abdaly

These images released by the Interior Ministry on Aug 13, 2015 shows a cache of weapons, explosives and ammunition found at a farm in Abdaly

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry hit back at the Iranian embassy in Kuwait yesterday after the embassy issued a press statement criticizing the government for its handling of information surrounding the uncover of alleged Iran-linked terror cell. In a statement published on its website yesterday afternoon, the Foreign Ministry said that the Iranian action violated diplomatic norms, “a country’s wish to officially access information concerning certain issues should be done through proper channels,” it noted in reference to an earlier statement issued by the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Iranian embassy’s statement to the media “disregarded Kuwait’s declared official attitude towards this particular case in the form of the highly responsible statement issued by the Cabinet, which was keen not to jump to conclusions before the honest Kuwaiti judiciary made its final judgment in the related case.”

Iranian embassy statement
Earlier in the day, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Kuwait sent a statement to all Kuwait media “expressing dissatisfaction with what it described as pushing Iran into a Kuwaiti domestic concern.” The embassy statement stressed that since the case details, including the alleged arrest of an Iranian citizen, were not yet announced and since local media dealt with the whole issue without notifying official Iranian bodies through proper diplomatic channels, the embassy would, thereby, point the following:

1. The embassy was not, so far, notified about the identity of the allegedly arrested Iranian, as per the public prosecution statement, his alleged role in the charges pressed against him nor the details of his arrest. Thus, the embassy urges Kuwaiti authorities to officially notify it with any related information and facilitate contact with the accused.

2. The Islamic Republic of Iran express deep regrets that some Kuwaiti media continue to negatively affect both countries’ bilateral relation through accusing Iran with false accusations that have not so far been verified by the judiciary.

3. Kuwaiti-Iranian relations cannot take such accusations, the Islamic Republic of Iran does stress its keenness on the security of the Gulf region’ states and on constructively working on enhancing regional security and stability. The statements came a day after Kuwait’s public prosecution charged 24 men for spying for Iran and Hezbollah and plotting “aggressive acts” against Kuwait. It also accused a number of them of being members with Hezbollah and others of receiving training on the use of weapons and ammunition to carry out the attacks.

On August 13, the Interior Ministry arrested three citizens after uncovering a huge arms cache at farmhouses in Al-Abdali near the border with Iraq. The cache included 19,000 kg of ammunition, 144 kg of explosives, 68 weapons, and 204 grenades were seized from three properties near the Iraqi border, the Interior Ministry said. Additional arrests were made and houses searched in Adan and other areas.

A trial of the suspected terror cell will start September 15. Several lawmakers this week called for a downgrading of diplomatic ties with Iran and the labeling of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in response to the discovery of the cell.

Families of those arrested
Meanwhile, families of those arrested filed a complaint to the United Nations through the Khiam Rehabilitation Center for victims of torture (KRC), said its chair, Mohammed Safa. Quoting the detainees’ families, Safa said that they saw evidence of torture when they visited the men at Kuwait Central Prison.

They claim to have seen evidence of electrocution on the men’s bodies. They also noticed burns, said the men claim to have been hung upside down, beaten, threatened that their wives and sisters would be raped and dragged on the ground. The families also said their sons were denied access to lawyers. “Such practices against detainees violate the UN’s Convention Against Torture, the simplest Human rights and Kuwait’s citizenship right, which calls for immediate action and dispatching a UNCHR envoy to visit the detainees and investigate reports about torturing them by security and state security forces, medically examine them by forensic medicine, urge the Kuwaiti government to respect prisoners’ treatment principles and rights and not to fabricate accusations against them”, Safa added.

Lawmakers react Kuwaiti MPs however continued their strong criticism of Iran with Islamist MP Humoud Al- Hamdan calling on the government to cut off diplomatic ties with Iran while MP Mubarak Al- Harees renewed calls for classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. MP Hamdan also called for reducing the number of Iranians in Kuwait gradually to stop their recruitment. Around 50,000-60,000 Iranians live and work in Kuwait.

The lawmaker also called for working to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization on gulf, Arab, Islamic and international levels in coordination with other partners in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. Hamdan said that if the weapons seized with the cell were allowed to spread in Kuwait, it would have turned the country into another Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. He urged the interior ministry to follow up with the sympathizers of Hezbollah in Kuwait and forms a committee to initiate dialogue with them.

MP Hamdan however insisted that not all Kuwaiti Shiites should be blamed for what the cell has done. MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji rejected what he described as the provocative statement by the Iranian embassy, saying its content was away from diplomacy.

By Mesha’al Al Enezi & B Izzak

This article was published on 03/09/2015