Three Yemenis go on trial accused of spying for Israel

Israel Materials 10 January 2009 18:16 (UTC +04:00)

A Yemeni state security court began on Saturday the trial of three young countrymen accused of spying for Israel, dpa reported.

The prosecution charged the three young men, aged between 23 and 26, with "establishing contacts with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and offering to work as agents for the Mossad intelligence agency."

They are also accused of operating under a fake organisation called the "Islamic Jihad of Yemen" and spreading false statements and news and claims of responsibility for attacks on embassies and foreign interests in Yemen between last year.

Prosecutors said the group's leader Bassam Abdullah al-Haidari, 26, had sent letters by email to the Israeli prime minister, offering to work for the Mossad.

They said the defendants had received a positive reply from Israeli officials, who allegedly welcomed the offer for collaboration.

Al-Haidari and the two other defendants, Emad Ali al-Raimi, 23, and Ali Abdullah al-Mahfal, 24, denied the charges and asked the court to appoint a lawyer for them.

Presiding judge Muhssien Alwan adjourned the trial until January 17.

The three men were part of a group of six suspects, who were arrested in October over alleged links to the Mossad. The three others were released by police for the lack of evidence.

Announcing the arrests, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said police had dismantled a "terrorist cell linked to the Israeli intelligence services."

The arrests followed the bombing of the US embassy in Sana'a in September, the responsibility for which was later claimed by al- Qaeda.