Mossad spy scare sparks political outrage

By Charlie Charalambous

A NEW Mossad spy-scare has caused an angry reaction among local politicians who want the island’s image as a “spook” capital to be cleaned up.

“We don’t like spies in our country and we expect ambassadors to tell the truth about what’s going on,” said opposition Diko deputy Marios Matsakis yesterday.

The chairman of the parliamentary defence committee, Takis Hadjidemetriou said the House would probably discuss the issue after the summer recess.

“We should wait and see what the police come up with. It seems there was some spy activity which the Israeli embassy had no knowledge of, judging by the Israeli ambassador’s surprise,” said Hadjidemetriou.

Mossad agents had their cover blown in Nicosia when an eagle-eyed motorist spotted a Mazda 323 with the same number plates as his immobilised Volvo.

Seeing the suspicious plates, the man followed the “Mossad Mazda” to the Israeli embassy compound in a high-speed chase, Philelefhterosnewspaper reported on Thursday.

This latest incident comes only five months after two Israeli agents were jailed for approaching a restricted area.

The Cypriot made a formal complaint to police about the misuse of his registration plates and the parking fines they had earned him.

“It’s sounds like a very nice story,” Israeli ambassador to Cyprus Shemi Tzur told reporters on Thursday.

Tzur could neither confirm or deny the story: “I have no information about this at all.”

However, on Friday, nobody at the Israeli embassy in Nicosia was available for comment or to give the usual denials of spy allegations.

“I fully condemn the incident in the same way that parliament condemned what happened in Zygi and we expect the authorities to stop it,” said Matsakis

“Past events have proved that ambassadors have lied about spying and we expect friendly countries to tell the truth,” he added.

The Cypriot authorities are treating the matter very sensitively in order not to disrupt good relations between Nicosia and Tel Aviv, sorely strained when two Israelis were arrested as spy suspects in Zygi last November.

In February, Udi Hargov, 37, and Igal Damary, 49, were sentenced to three years in prison by the Assize court for approaching a restricted military area during secret National Guard operations.

Hargov and Damary pleaded guilty to the charge after the more serious charge of spying against Cyprus were dropped.

In their defence, the two Israelis were described as members of an “elite anti-terrorist organisation” trying to prevent acts of terrorism against Israel.

Although Cyprus-Israeli relations have since improved, Tzur has said his government wanted the two agents released immediately as it had requested from the outset.