Israel has accused Iran of plotting a terrorist attack against its citizens in Cyprus after a suspect was arrested with a handgun and silencer on suspicion of trying to kill a businessman.

Teddy Sagi, 49, an Israeli-Cypriot entrepreneur who owns Camden Market in north London, is reported to have fled the Mediterranean island last month after a tip-off that he was being targeted by assassins. A 39-year-old man from Azerbaijan, who holds a Russian passport, was arrested at a border crossing in Nicosia, the capital, last week.

There were reports that Sagi had been threatened by former business partners from the online gambling industry. However, a spokesman for Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, accused Iran of directing a wider plot to harm Israelis abroad.

“This was an act of terror that was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus,” Bennett’s spokesman said. “This wasn’t a criminal incident, and Teddy Sagi wasn’t the [specific] target.” He did not give more details.

The Iranian embassy in Cyprus said in an email to the Reuters news agency: “This regime is always making such a baseless allegation against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Sagi founded the online gambling company Playtech and is said to own property in Israel, Cyprus, London and Berlin. His net worth is thought to be about £3.7 billion.

The Sagi Group appeared to confirm that he had been caught up in a wider plot. “This is a foiled Iranian terrorist incident. The target for the assassination is not Teddy Sagi but Israelis in Cyprus,” the company said.

Israel and Iran have been engaged in a clandestine tit-for-tat conflict for years, regularly accusing each other of terrorist attacks and sabotage, including on shipping in the Mediterranean.

The Iranian military is said to have targeted ships with links to Israeli businessmen. In turn, the Israeli spy agency Mossad has been blamed for incidents including the assassination of the head of Iran’s nuclear programme in Tehran last November.

The latest alleged plot was foiled after an investigation by Mossad and the Cyprus Intelligence Service, which warned Sagi about the threat.

Cypriot media reported that the suspect, who has not been charged, was arrested on Monday last week in Nicosia after crossing a checkpoint linking the Turkish-controlled north with the southern part of the island.

Stylianos Papatheodorou, chief of Cyprus Police, said that “all possibilities” were being investigated. “A person has been arrested in whose possession a pistol and cartridges were found . . . It is a sensitive case, which is why a remand request was held behind closed doors.”

Source » theportal-center