Iranians face terrorism charges after filming Israeli embassy in Kenya

December 1, 2016 10:44 AM EST

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By Humphrey Malalo

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Two Iranians and their Kenyan driver, who worked for the Iranian embassy in Nairobi, were charged on Thursday with collecting information for a terrorist act after filming the Israeli embassy, lawyers said.

Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahimi, Abdolhosein Ghola Safafe and driver Moses Keyah Mmboga "were found taking video clips of the Israeli embassy ... for the use in the commission of a terrorist act", according to a charge sheet produced in court.

The three men were in a car belonging to the Iranian embassy when they were arrested on Tuesday, the court papers said. The diplomatic status of the two Iranians was unclear.

The Iranian embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

"My clients pleaded not guilty and have been detained by the ATPU (Kenya's Anti Terrorism Police Unit) for further interrogation," defense lawyer Cohen Amanya told Reuters after the men's court appearance.

Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said the two Iranians were visiting Kenya but gave no further details.

Kenya has suffered repeated militant attacks in recent years but those were mainly carried out by ethnically Somali militants who would be hostile to Iran because of sectarian differences.

In 2002, 15 people died when an Israeli-owned hotel was bombed in the coastal town of Mombasa at the same time two missiles were fired at an Israeli jet, narrowly missing it.

In 2013, a Kenyan court jailed two Iranians for life on terrorism-related charges, including possessing explosives. The sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams)



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