UK Joke of the Day: I am a victim of a conspiracy by the CIA
October 28, 2008
Corporal Daniel James: I am a victim of a conspiracy by the CIA
Michael Evans, Defence Editor
A British Army interpreter told police he was the victim of a conspiracy by
the CIA which made up an espionage plot against him, the Old Bailey heard
Corporal Daniel James, who is accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act
while serving in Afghanistan, said the deliberate attempt to undermine him
was the result of a growing division between the Americans and the British
over how to run the campaign in the country.
Corporal James, from Brighton, was the personal interpreter to General Sir
David Richards when he was commander of Nato's International Security
Assistance Force (Isaf) in 2006. The Iranian-born Territorial Army corporal
is accused of spying for Iran.
When arrested on suspicion of spying he told the police he had been "set up"
by the CIA in a plot to undermine General Richards because the Americans
were angry that the British commander wanted to find a peaceful solution to
the war with the Taleban rather than adopt the US approach of attacking the
Mark Dennis, QC, prosecuting, however, told Corporal James the allegation
was "rubbish", and he went on to highlight a whole range of different
explanations the TA soldier had "come up with" for why he had sent e-mails
and made numerous phone calls to Colonel Mohammad Heydari, a military
assistant at the Iranian embassy in Kabul.
Mr Dennis said his latest defence case - that he had been communicating with
Colonel Heydari to try to negotiate a deal to buy gas for Nato and
Afghanistan from Iran at a cheap price - had only been put forward on Friday
last week. Mr Dennis asked Corporal James whether he had informed his
defence counsel about the "gas scheme". The defendant claimed he had made it
clear for a long time.
When he was interviewed by police on December 18 and 19 2006 after he was
arrested at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, Corporal James denied any
knowledge of Colonel Heydari, claimed he knew nothing of e-mails sent to the
Iranain embassy, and said he had no idea why two Nato-confidential documents
were stored in his USB computer device.
Mr Dennis outlined to the court how Corporal James's story had changed
several times since his arrest. At one point he had claimed he was
communicating with the Iranian embassy as part of a personal campaign to
promote peace and trade between Iran and the United States.
Mr Dennis wondered why his defence counsel had made no mention of any gas
scheme in drawing up his case until last Friday, and asked Corporal James
whether he had deliberately requested that his barrister make no mention of
it. Corporal James replied: "I never said anything."
In earlier evidence, however, the TA corporal who used to give salsa dance
classes to his military colleagues in Kabul, said he was "paranoid" about
other people discovering his idea for buying cheap gas from Iran. He
admitted he had hoped to make "a million" out of it by charging two or three
per cent commission from the company he was involving in his project.
When Mr Dennis cast doubt on his earlier claim that he was "an unwitting
pawn in a CIA plot" against him, Corporal James replied: "Anything's
possible with the CIA."
The trial continues.
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