The Times: The salsa-dancing Territorial Army interpreter accused of spying for Iran called himself “General James” in Afghanistan and had to be reminded that he was a corporal, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.
Michael Evans, Defence Editor
The salsa-dancing Territorial Army interpreter accused of spying for Iran called himself “General James” in Afghanistan and had to be reminded that he was a corporal, the Old Bailey was told yesterday.
Daniel James, 45, who has pleaded not guilty to two charges under the 1911 Official Secrets Act and one of wilful misconduct, was also said to act out the part of his boss, General Sir David Richards, when translating before Afghan audiences in 2006.
The corporal, who had served in the TA for 18 years and had been a bouncer and dance instructor in Brighton, where he lived, is charged with passing information to a colonel at Iran's embassy in Kabul. The prosecution has presented evidence that he downloaded two Nato-confidential “situation reports” about operations in Afghanistan into a USB computer storage device and had been in touch both by e-mail and phone with the colonel.
General Richards, then commander of Nato's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, appeared as a prosecution witness yesterday and said that on occasions he had whispered to his interpreter, telling him to lower his voice and stop acting the part of a general.
Asked whether he knew that Corporal James had begun calling himself General James, he said: “I didn't know that but it doesn't surprise me.”
General Richards, now Commander-in-Chief Land Command, said that the corporal had a character that “bordered on the bizarre”. He admitted that he was “completely dependent” on him because there was no alternative, and his previous interpreter, a captain, had not been good enough.
Corporal James, Iranian by birth, had been with him when he was in talks with Afghan ministers, and though he never discussed tactics with them, there would have been conversations that gave an insight into the geo-political “atmospherics”.
Mark Dennis, QC, for the prosecution, told the jury that Corporal James had been embittered by not being promoted. General Richards acknowledged that it would have been more appropriate if he had been a sergeant.
Corporal James was told in December 2006 that he was not to be promoted. The prosecution case is that that is why he switched loyalty to Iran.
The trial continues.