Jerusalem/Nicosia, October 4: After the Mediterranean island police stated that an armed man had been arrested, Israel on Monday accused Iran of planning an attempted attack on the Israelis in Cyprus. Iran quickly denied the accusation.
“This was a terrorist incident directed by Iran against Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus,” Matan Sidi, spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, said in a statement.
Asked to comment, the embassy of Iran in the Cypriot capital Nicosia said in an emailed statement: “This regime is always making such a baseless allegation against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” referring to Israel.
Earlier on Monday, Cypriot police chief Stelios Papatheodorou told reporters: “A person has been arrested, in whose possession a pistol and cartridges were found.”
“It is a sensitive case, which is why a remand request was held behind closed doors,” Papatheodorou added.
Cypriot media quoted police sources as reporting that the suspect, who has not yet been charged, was arrested in the capital Nicosia on September 27 when he had just crossed the border from a checkpoint linking the northern and southern regions controlled by Turkey. An island divided by races.
According to reports, a muffler was also found in his car. He is widely reported as an Azerbaijani with a Russian passport and is 38 or 39 years old.
Last week, the suspect was taken to the district court, which approved the police’s eight-day remand request. According to the law, the police need to apply to the court to extend his remand period.
Israel seems to imply that its intelligence service helped Cyprus thwart the alleged attack conspiracy.
“There are security threats. As you can see, the Shin Bet, the Mossad, all of the security forces know how to handle them,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters when asked about the incident. “The fact is that we’re there. We’re minding matters.”
Cypriot media have also reported that the suspect was on the island for about 20 days prior to his arrest and rented two cars in succession. They said he used an electric scooter to travel frequently to the north side of the island via a pedestrian crossing.
In his statement, Sidi denied local media reports on Sunday that described the arrest as having thwarted a criminally motivated assassination attempt against Teddy Sagi, an Israeli magnate.