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Iran may have used a secret cable published by whistleblower website WikiLeaks to target and hang an alleged Israeli spy.
The disturbing development emerged after the alleged spy, kickboxer Majid Jamali Fashi, was executed in Tehran on Tuesday for assassinating an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010.
Although WikiLeaks redacted the name of the intelligence source on a leaked US diplomatic cable, it published a description of him as “a licensed martial arts coach and trainer”, writing from Azerbaijan.
According to a report yesterday, Fashi, 24, had visited Azerbaijan for a kickboxing tournament just days before the cable was sent.
Experts said they believe the US Embassy document could have raised Iranian suspicions.
The file detailed a US diplomat’s debriefing of the source, who told how the Iranian regime put pressure on martial arts clubs to train members of the Revolutionary Guards and used them to put down the popular uprising three years ago.
It did not refer to the Israelis or any plot to kill a nuclear scientist.
But Fashi was arrested and charged days after the cable was published in December 2010.
Tehran said the kickboxer confessed to murdering Massoud Ali-Mohammadi on behalf of Mossad, Israel’s secret service, in January 2010 using a remote-control bomb put on the scientist’s motorcycle.
Birmingham University professor Scott Lucas, an authority on Iran, said yesterday that Tehran could have become suspicious about Fashi because of the cable, adding: “Alternatively it could have been used as a pretext against him; to set him up as a person who could take the fall for the assassination.”
Ali Ansari, head of the Institute for Iranian Studies at the University of St Andrews, said: “I have always considered the release of the WikiLeaks files, without consideration for those consciously or unconsciously named in them, to be grotesquely irresponsible.”
WikiLeaks had no comment on the report yesterday.
Israel has always denied any role in the scientist’s killing. - Daily Mail
UPDATE: 29 May 2012
In an email to IOL Wikileak's Julian Assange said that there were many factual errors in this article and he asked for the opportunity to provide additional facts. We reproduce those below as they were received.
- Majid Jamali Fashi is not the source named in the cable: http://www.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/09/09BAKU687.html
- The cable does not even mention Israel.
- Fashi was not a martial arts expert, he was a kickboxer. The source mentioned in the cable was a Taekwondo coach.
- At no point have the Iranian authorities mentioned any US embassy cable in connection with Fashi’s case.
- The cable was published by Der Speigel on 3 December 2010, which then uploaded its redacted version of the cable to WikiLeaks’ website.
- Fashi was arrested in January 2011, not ‘days’ after the redacted cable was published on 3 December 2010.
- Fashi was sentenced in August 2011, prior to the release on 1 September 2011 of the unredacted cables onto the internet following publicity about Guardian investigative reporter David Leigh’s publication of the encryption key to the entire cable set in his book, in contravention of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian newspaper.
- Scott Lucas, the Iranian expert on whose speculative article of 29 August 2011 The Australian’s article is based, has written a follow-up article complaining that his comments were misconstrued: http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2012/5/18/iran-special-the-nuclear-scientist-wikileaks-and-the-execute.html
- WikiLeaks commented at length on the inaccuracy of this story in a series of tweets on 16 May 2012: http://wlcentral.org/node/2598