Israel has accused Iran of orchestrating an attack on Israel in Cyprus after police on the Mediterranean island said an armed man had been arrested. Iran quickly denied the allegations.
“This was a terrorist incident by Iran against Israeli businessmen living in Cyprus,” said Matan Sidi, a spokesman for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in a statement on Monday.
Asked to comment, the Iranian embassy in the Cypriot capital Nicosia said in an email statement to the Reuters news agency: “This regime (Israel) has always made such a baseless accusation against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Earlier on Monday, Cypriot police chief Stelios Papatheodorou told media: “An individual has been captured in possession of a gun and cartridges were found.”
“It is a sensitive case, so an arrest warrant was held behind closed doors,” Papatheodorou added.
Cypriot media, citing a police source, reported that the suspect, who was not charged, was arrested on September 27 in the capital Nicosia, just after he was crossed by car from a checkpoint that controlled the Turkish north and southern parts of the ethnically divided island.
A muffler was also found in his vehicle, reports say. He was widely reported as an Azeri with a Russian passport at the age of 38 or 39 years.
The suspect was taken to a magistrate’s court, which last week approved an eight-day arrest warrant from police. According to law, the police have to petition the court for an extension of their detention.
Israel has apparently indicated that its intelligence services have contributed to Cyprus’ disappearance of the speculated attack plot.
“There are safety threats. As you can see, the Shin Bet, the Mossad, all the security forces know how to deal with it,” Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told reporters when asked about the incident. “The fact is, we’re there. We’re thinking about topics.”
Cypriot media also stated that the suspect was on the island about 20 days before his arrest and had rented two cars. They declared he utilized an electric scooter to move to the north side of the island via a pedestrian walkway.