By Fiona MacDonald
Kuwait has downsized Iran’s diplomatic contingent and shut its cultural mission and other affiliate offices, following a final Supreme Court ruling in an espionage case, according to state-run KUNA news agency.
The court in June commuted to life imprisonment the death sentence imposed on the ringleader of a 26-member cell accused of spying for Iran and concealing large quantities of arms and explosives to carry out attacks in Kuwait. Twenty cell members were sentenced to jail terms ranging from five to 15 years, and two were acquitted. Three more were tried in absentia.
Kuwaiti newspapers recently reported that some of the cell members had escaped by boat to Iran and lawmakers demanded a government explanation. The Ministry of Interior said Wednesday that 16 of the men were on the run but that according to ministry records have not left the country through regular exit points.
Kuwait is mediating a six-week diplomatic spat in the Gulf sparked in part by Qatar’s closer ties with Iran.