The Cypriot government remains silent over an alleged thwarted attack orchestrated by Tehran on Israeli targets on the island, with the Iranian embassy dismissing the news story and calling it a “Zionist conspiracy” aimed at driving a wedge between Nicosia and Tehran.
Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis has declined to comment on an alleged thwarted terror plot against Israeli targets on the island, citing national security reasons.
Letymbiotis, who was asked for comment Tuesday by an inquisitive host on state radio, declined to confirm reports or further address the case but declared that “the Republic of Cyprus will continue to show zero tolerance to any terrorist activity.”
Days earlier, Greek Cypriot and Israeli media picked up a story by Philenews over the weekend that said a suspected terrorist under surveillance for the last few months had abandoned plans to attack Israelis on the island.
The Iranian embassy in Nicosia says it 'considers such allegations to be part of a repeated Zionist conspiracy and futile attempts to undermine the friendly relations' between Nicosia and Tehran
Philenews also reported that the suspect had been identified by Cypriot authorities, citing the discovery of a firearm left behind in Limassol, adding that the case prompted the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “praise the thwarting of the Iranian terror attack on Cypriot soil against Israeli targets.”
“The State of Israel operates using a wide variety of methods in every place to protect Jews and Israelis and will continue to act to destroy Iranian terrorism wherever it raises its head, including on Iranian soil,” the statement said.
But Nicosia was less forthcoming about the case, with Letymbiotis saying “the government of Israel has every right to state a position or offer praise in a way of its own choosing.”
Letymbiotis declined to comment on how Cypriot secret services deal with such sensitive matters.
“Okay, but why does the Cypriot government take such a position and keep distance from the case since this has been confirmed by Israel?” the host asked.
“The way our services respond or prevent or receive information is a matter of national security for Cyprus and we cannot comment on it,” Letymbiotis replied.
An official statement said Nicosia “will continue to seek open channels of communication with everyone.”
Tehran has slammed the original news story by Philenews, which published in a subsequent online report a statement from the Iranian embassy in Nicosia that “vehemently denies the baseless accusation.”
“The Islamic Republic of Iran considers such allegations to be part of a repeated Zionist conspiracy and futile attempts to undermine the friendly relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the embassy said.
Police neither confirm nor deny five arrests
Philenews also cited local television network Antena that said last Thursday there were home searches in Nicosia and Limassol, where a total of five Syrian nationals were taken in for questioning in connection with the case.
“Based on their answers during interrogation, it was confirmed that these five individuals did not have a clear picture of why the Iranian assassin asked to meet with them. For this reason they were released,” Philenews said.
But police did not provide any information about any arrests or home searches, telling Knews on Wednesday morning that they “could not comment on the case, including any reports about possible arrests due to national security reasons.”
Also last Thursday morning, local media said an Israeli businessman and his wife were in their home in Agios Athanasios, Limassol district, when a tossed makeshift pipe bomb exploded on the balcony of the second floor.
Police have ruled out any terrorism links to the bomb incident but declined to speculate on the motive behind the attack.