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Iran spy ‘should never have been given job as interpreter’, says judge


ImageDaily Telegraph: A salsa-dancing army corporal who spied for Iran should never have been given a job as interpreter to Britain's top general in Afghanistan, a judge said.

The Daily Telegraph

A salsa-dancing army corporal who spied for Iran should never have been given a job as interpreter to Britain's top general in Afghanistan, a judge said.

By Chris Irvine

ImageMr Justice Roderick Evans, who sentenced Daniel James to 10 years in prison, said he agreed with the defence that James should never have been put in that as he was "obviously unsuitable".

James worked for General David Richards, who has since been appointed the next head of the British Army, and at the time headed the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, a 37-nation coalition comprising 35,000 troops.

Earlier this month James, 45, of Brighton, was found guilty of communicating information useful to an enemy under the Official Secrets Act.

The charge related to emails he sent to Colonel Mohammad Hossein Heydari, military attache at the Iranian embassy in Kabul.

Earlier Colin Nicholls QC, defending had said the corporal was far from the "John le Carre" or "James Bond" world of spying.

He said: "This is a case of a low ranking Territorial Army soldier who was plucked out of a civilian environment to shoulder a responsibility for which he was clearly unsuitable, as was apparent to many people that he was working amongst and which by reason firstly of his dual nationality and secondly because of his complex narcissistic personality led him to be tempted to commit the offence for which he has been convicted."

Mr Nicholls said James was not given proper security clearance when he went to work for Gen Richards.

A psychiatrist had since found he had a narcissistic personality and that he believed he had a "special purpose" to work as a peace maker.

Mr Nicholls said: "He would not be here if the people had been more careful, realising effectively that this man was potential dynamite."

Mr Justice Evans, who said James had a "grossly inflated view of your own importance and your ability", added: "I accept that it was the Iranian authorities who identified you and contacted you and sought your services and that you were not the person who approached them.

"They identified you and they approached you because of the unique position in which you were placed when you went as a Territorial Army soldier to Afghanistan in 2006.

"Because of your background and your linguistic abilities, you were made the personal interpreter to the officer commanding ISAF troops in Afghanistan.

The judge said he accepted that there had been "no known damage" to UK, Nato or ISAF operations.

But he added: "The potential for serious harm, had this relationship between you and the Iranian authorities developed, was immense.

"The reality was that this relationship between you, a British soldier in Afghanistan and an agent of a foreign government has damaged trust between Nato and the government of Afghanistan, and has the potential of inhibiting the sharing of intelligence and sensitive information between bodies whose mutual trust is essential for protecting the lives of British soldiers."

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