Last Updated: Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:03 pm (KSA) 09:03 am (GMT)

Canada freezes assets of five Iranians over alleged plot to kill a Saudi ambassador

Mansoor Arbabsiar is one of the suspected men alleged to have been involved in a purported plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. (Sketch provided by Reuters)
Mansoor Arbabsiar is one of the suspected men alleged to have been involved in a purported plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. (Sketch provided by Reuters)

Following in the footsteps of the United States and Britain, Canada has frozen the assets of five Iranian nationals accused by Washington of plotting to kill a Saudi ambassador, officials said late Tuesday.

“In response to credible allegations of the Iranian regime’s involvement in an assassination plot last week, Canada is imposing new sanctions on five Iranian nationals believed to be complicit in its planning,” Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement.

The measures place travel restrictions on the five and ban any Canadian individual or entity from having financial dealings with them.

Baird went on to accuse the Iranian regime of “regularly ignoring their obligations under international law” and threatening global peace and security, according to AFP.

“They obfuscate Iran’s nuclear activities and they block international attempts to verify the country's claims. They do so while continuing to violate the human rights of Iranian citizens and undermining regional security,” he said.

“This foiled plot is yet more proof of the threat posed by the current Iranian regime. Canada will continue to work with its international partners to pressure the regime to change its dangerous ways.”

Those affected by the Canadian freeze include Manssor Arbabsiar, 56, an Iranian used-car salesman who is a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Texas and was arrested in the United States last week over the plot, the statement said.

Another is high-ranking Revolutionary Guard official Gholam Shakuri, 47, also charged over the plot but who is believed to be in Iran.

Qasem Soleimani, Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai, who U.S. officials said were senior officers in Iran's elite special operations Quds Force involved in the plot, have also had their assets frozen, the government said.

U.S. authorities froze the assets of the same five individuals one week ago, and Britain also followed suit earlier Tuesday.

Authorities in the United States say the plot involved Arbabsiar allegedly trying to contract a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, possibly through the bombing of a Washington restaurant.

Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement and claimed the allegations are politically motivated.

The affair has escalated tensions between the United States and Iran, relations poisoned by decades of mutual suspicion and more recently Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters on Tuesday that Britain was discussing action with its European Union partners and expected other nations to follow suit with sanctions.

“The U.S. has designated under their sanctions legislation five individuals. As of today the UK will designate the same five individuals under the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010,” Hague told Reuters.

“We are also discussing with our EU partners a wider action against these same five individuals,” added Hague on his arrival in Mauritania as part of a trip to North Africa.

From its embassy in London, Iran issued a statement reiterating it “vehemently and categorically denies the accusations” that it called illogical, “an immature scenario and political show and ... nothing but a media smear campaign.”

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