Iran General NewsArmy betrayed me, says spy charge soldier

Army betrayed me, says spy charge soldier

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Daily Telegraph: An aide to a British general, accused of spying for Iran, appeared in court yesterday and claimed he had been betrayed by the army. The Daily Telegraph

By Duncan Gardham

An aide to a British general, accused of spying for Iran, appeared in court yesterday and claimed he had been betrayed by the army.

Cpl Daniel James, a former salsa dance teacher and club owner, shouted “I’m not guilty” as he was led from court, adding: “This is the way the Army has repaid me.”

After the hearing his solicitor, David Martin, said: “He is devastated by the false allegations apparently being made by the very people he served so loyally.”

Cpl James, 44, was born in Iran but educated in Britain and became a British citizen in 1986, changing his name from Esmail Gamasai 10 years ago.

The court heard that he had spent 19 years in the Territorial Army before he was approached and asked to act as an interpreter.

He went on to translate Farsi for Gen David Richards, the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan and one of the most senior officers in the British Army.

He was arrested on Dec 18 after returning to Britain and yesterday was remanded to the Old Bailey under the 1911 Official Secrets Act. It is charged that on Nov 2 he “communicated information calculated to be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy”.

James, born a Shia Muslim, could now be the first person for more than 20 years to be tried for spying.

Pictures emerged yesterday of James on patrol with Afghan troops in June, dressed in combat fatigues and carrying a standard issue SA80 assault rifle.

At Westminster magistrates’ court the soldier appeared dressed in a grey jumper and green anorak.

He stood with his hands behind his back as he was asked to confirm his name, age and address by the clerk of the court and answered: “Yes, ma’am.” As proceedings continued, James, who was behind glass and flanked by two dock officers, turned to the court and pointed to himself mouthing the word “innocent”.

The court heard that the Attorney General’s permission is required before a prosecution can proceed under the Official Secrets Act and that has not yet been gained.

An application for bail was held behind closed doors under provisions of the 1920 Official Secrets Act.

Judge Timothy Workman said: “I have heard details of conversations, movements and meetings of the defendant and I am satisfied that if the detail of that were revealed it would be likely to endanger public safety and security.”

Later Mr Workman outlined James’s background, telling the court he was married with one son and had been divorced in the 1990s. He had worked in clubs in Brighton and as a physical training instructor for the TA before he was approached to act as an interpreter in April 2005.

But James suffered two strokes and it was not until he had recovered that he was deployed by the Army in March 2006.

Mr Workman said: “The defence maintains he is a committed and patriotic citizen of his adopted country. There has never been any suggestion until now that his service was not entirely loyal.

“He maintains throughout his role of interpreter he was never called on to translate confidential documents and certainly not secret documents.”

An application for bail was denied and James stood again as he was told by Mr Workman that he would be remanded to appear at the Old Bailey via video link on Jan 12.

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