Germany on Monday withdrew the operating permit for Iran’s Mahar Air to fly in and out of the country, accusing the airline of being involved in illegal activities.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that the government sanctioned the airlines for helping the Iranian government spy.
A German foreign ministry representative said the move was made to “protect Germany’s foreign and security policy interests.”
German authorities arrested a 50-year-old German-Afghan dual national who worked for the German military for allegedly transferring sensitive military data to Iran, the Mehr News Agency reported. Tehran has denied the charges, calling them an “unfounded claim” meant to harm Iran’s relationship with the European Union.
In October, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced sanctions against Mahan Air, saying the airline provides financial, material and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force in Tehran.
“Mahan Air’s close coordination with the IRGC-QF — secretly ferrying operatives, weapons and funds on its flights — reveals yet another facet of the IRGC’s extensive infiltration of Iran’s commercial sector to facilitate its support for terrorism,” David Cohen, the U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement then.
“Following the revelation about the IRGC-QF’s use of the international financial system to fund its murder-for-hire plot, today’s action highlights further the undeniable risks of doing business with Iran,” he added.
The European Union slapped a unit of the Iranian intelligence agency and two individuals with sanctions on Jan. 8 for their alleged involvement in various assassination plots against Iranian opposition leaders in Denmark and France.
The EU froze the assets of the agency and the individuals, who will be subject to other restrictions.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said the Netherlands’ secret service had “strong indications” Iran was involved in the assassination of Dutch nationals in Almere in 2015 and in The Hague in 2017.
The sanctions are the first the EU has imposed on Iran since the U.S.-led nuclear deal three years ago.