A Pakistani man accused of spying on a German government official on behalf of Iran was reportedly part of a wider plot to assassinate pro-Israel activists in Europe.
German prosecutors on Monday indicted 31-year-old Pakistani student Syed Mustafa H. on espionage-related charges for allegedly spying on Reinhold Robbe, a former lawmaker and ex-head of the German-Israeli Society in 2015, a pro-Israel advocacy group.
The indictment accused Mustafa of spying for an unnamed Iranian intelligence agency from mid-2015 to his arrest in July 2016.
German security agencies believe Robbe was being eyed by Tehran as a possible assassination target in retaliation for an Israeli operation against Iran’s nuclear facilities, German media reported over the weekend.
According to the indictment, Mustafa in 2015 was recruited by the Iranian intelligence to follow Robbe, and complied a thorough “movement profile” of the former German-Israeli Society chairman.
Mustafa gathered information detailing Robbe’s day-to-day activities, paying particular attention to his commute to work at the Berlin offices of the German-Israeli Society.
Authorities said the detailed portfolio of Robbe’s travel habits was a clear indication of an assassination plot, public broadcasters NDR and WDR reported.
According to federal prosecutors, Mustafa’s intelligence gathering was part of a wider Iranian effort to identify possible targets with friendly ties to Israel, the reports said.
The 31-year-old engineering student is also reportedly accused of spying on a French-Israeli professor at a Paris business school on behalf of Tehran during that time.
German media noted this was the first known case of a German official to be targeted in an Iranian intelligence operation.
Up until his arrest last year, Mustafa was enrolled as an engineering student in the city of Bremen and worked at the German Aerospace Center.
He faces up to five years imprisonment if convicted on the espionage charges.