Yemen sentences 'Iranian spies' to death

SANAA, Yemen, May 25 (UPI) -- A Yemeni court upheld a verdict Tuesday against two individuals accused of spying on Yemen for Iran, sentencing them to death.

Two members of an alleged Iranian spy cell were sentenced to death and a third was acquitted by a penal court. The two alleged spies were convicted of passing sensitive Yemeni information on the defense, security and economic conditions in the country to Iranians, the official Saba news agency reports.


The Yemeni government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh accused the Iranians of arming the Shiite Houthi rebel group, which fought Saleh's forces to a standstill last year in the mountains of Saada province along the border with Saudi Arabia. Yemen is predominantly Sunni Muslim.

The rebellion began in 2004 but intensified sharply in August, when Saleh launched an all-out offensive dubbed Operation Scorched Earth against the Shiite tribesmen.

Tehran denied the charges. Iran state-run media last year quoted Abdel Karim al-Ariani, a Yemeni presidential adviser, as saying Tehran "plays no role" in the violence plaguing Yemen.

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