Israel arrests British consulate staff over 'stadium plot'

4th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Israel has arrested two locally hired workers at the British consulate general in Jerusalem who were reportedly linked to an alleged plot to attack a football stadium, British officials said Monday.

Mohamed Hamadeh and Bilal Bakhatan, who had maintenance jobs, have reportedly been charged with the illegal sale of weapons, said a Foreign Office spokesman in London.

"I can confirm that two members of the local staff at the consulate general in Jerusalem have been arrested by Israeli authorities," the spokesman told AFP.

"We understand from reports that they have been charged with the illegal sale of weapons and we are seeking confirmation of these charges."

The BBC reported the two men were detained for allegedly obtaining weapons for two other men accused of being behind a plan to fire a rocket at Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium, which is home to the Beitar Jerusalem football club.

But no rockets were found and the plot was in its preliminary stages, said the broadcaster, citing police. The Foreign Office spokesman refused to comment on the report.

He stressed Britain had been informed by Israeli authorities that the investigation into the pair was unrelated to their work at the consulate. It is understood they were arrested last month.

As maintenance workers, the pair would not have had sensitive security clearance, said the spokesman. All staff undergo appropriate security vetting, he added.

© 2011 AFP

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