Daily Telegraph: A British Army translator accused of spying for Iran was a voodoo priest who used black magic to protect the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Taliban, a court heard.
The Daily Telegraph
A British Army translator accused of spying for Iran was a voodoo priest who used black magic to protect the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Taliban, a court heard.
Iranian-born Daniel James, 45, who was the personal interpreter to General David Richards, told the Old Bailey that he used pictures, dust, candles and seashells to cast spells protect his boss.
He also said he did Tarot card readings for other personnel at the Allied HQ in Kabul to predict the future.
James is alleged to have passed on secret information about Allied troop movements to the Iranians – who then passed it on to the Taliban.
Giving evidence, James swore on the Bible but said he embraced all religions before telling the court how he converted to Voodoo while on his yearly trips to Cuba to research salsa in 2003.
He claimed to be a priest who had recorded 10 Voodoo DVDs.
James said: "I actually did black magic for General Richards praying to God to protect him from the Taliban.
He explained: "Yoruba is the name of the religion. It is voodoo and black magic. I became the equivalent of a priest in the Church of England."
Corporal James told the court he ran salsa dance lessons from his Brighton club "Capital of Salsa" and dubbed himself "King of Salsa" before selling his businesses in 2005 just as he was called up to Afghanistan as a volunteer in the Territorial Army.
As a dancer he regularly appeared on 1980s TV show 'Solid Soul' after an invitation by Jonathan Ross, who was then a television researcher, and he was a kick-boxing body builder who was one of Britain's top three power lifters, the court heard.
It is alleged James was a 'Walter Mitty' character who had "grandiose ideas about himself and his own self-importance".
He told the jury he agreed with allegations that when he translated for General Richards as he addressed a crowd of Afghan dignitaries he would sometimes act like a general.
He said: "Well I think the audience did not understand General Richards. They were watching me and I thought I should act as a general because they are watching me. I was acting good and the public respected me."
Earlier the court heard from General Richards that often, as an quiet aside while on stage in front of an audience, he had to remind his corporal who in fact was the senior officer.
James also told the court while out in Afghanistan he called himself General James after being promised promotion because his predecessor had the rank of acting Major.
Before he had "could not have cared less" about his rank but was promised promotion to sergeant because it was thought to be more appropriate to his role as the general's translator – although the promotion never materialised.
It is alleged James "turned his back " on his colleagues because he was "disenchanted" and "bitter" about the British Army because he thought it was racist for not promoting him and was a fantasist "Walter Mitty" character who revelled in the idea of being a spy.
But a British Army Colonel known as 'M' who was Chief of Combined Intelligence told the court the implications of James's betrayal was "extremely serious".
Assessing the alleged contact between James and an military assistant at the Iranian embassy in Kabul, he said the relationship was in its infancy but the potential damage was "immense" that could have driven a wedge between the British and its NATO allies.
He said: "Information passed over time could help and assist a hostile state in its effort to conduct a tactical deployment that posed a threat to the lives of UK and NATO service personnel in Afghanistan and pose a similar threat to the interior national security of the UK."
James, of Cliff Road, Brighton, denies two breaches of the Official Secrets Act by collecting and passing on military secrets to a foreign power and wilful misconduct in public office.
He was caught with two secret reports on NATO troop numbers and movements on a UBS stick as he prepared to board an RAF plane back to Afghanistan along with pictures of RAF spy drones and a NATO aircraft manual, it was said.
The trial continues.