Ron Arad - AP
Missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad. Photo by AP
Text size
related tags

Iran has arrested Israeli spies linked to a foundation formed to secure information regarding missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad, a top Iranian official said on Monday.

Speaking to the Iranian ISNA news agency, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said Iranian intelligence had succeeded in identifying and arresting "Zionist spies," who had been "deceived" by false humanitarian aims declared by the website of an institution whose aim is to find the Israeli soldier.

Moslehi was most probably alluding to the "10million.org" website operated by "L'Hofesh Nolad" [Born to Freedom] an NGO offering a $10 million reward for "proven information leading to soldiers missing in action," including Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986.

The Iranian minister accused the website of links to Israeli intelligence, saying "the Zionist regime has run the institution inside the Islamic Republic of Iran and neighboring states even in forms of NGO some 20 years ago under a humanitarian cover."

Moslehi claimed that the foundation's aim is to lure "people from different countries to observe their intelligence missions in Islamic countries," saying that Iran "managed to arrest many individuals deceived by the foundation."

Last year, Lebanon's state-run news agency accused the Born to Freedom Foundation of hacking into its website to post a message calling for information about the missing IAF navigator.

National News Agency (NNA) director Laure Suleiman said the agency's Arabic, English and French websites "were hacked several times by the Israeli Born to Freedom Foundation."

The hackers left a message reading "Earn a reward of 10 million dollars in exchange for information about Israeli airman Ron Arad and other missing Israelis" which was posted on the website on Monday afternoon.

"Due to the hacking, the agency was forced to stop transmitting on Monday, but resumed operations on Tuesday," Suleiman said.

Such messages appeared on several occasions on mobile telephones in Lebanon during the July 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group.