(MENAFN - Arab News) The 18-member network of spies, arrested by Saudi security agents on Sunday, have been linked with the Iranian intelligence agency, said Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman of the Interior Ministry.
He said the suspected spies including 16 Saudis, an Iranian and a Lebanese are still under investigation. "We have found these individuals monitoring vital military, economic and civilian installations," he added.
A number of citizens, meanwhile, denounced the espionage work by citizens and said the suspected spies are cheaters of the nation and religion. They commended Saudi security agencies for arresting the criminals.
"Saudi Arabia has been targeted by many because they are envious of its wealth, its services to the two holy mosques and its implementation of Shariah," said Anwar Eshqi, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies.
He urged Saudi nationals to cooperate with security agencies to uncover such bad elements.
The men were arrested in Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh and Eastern Province after police received information about their espionage activities.
According to a report carried by Asharq Al-Awsat, the arrest of the 18 took place between 8 and 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Al-Turki denied any link between the arrested spies and Al-Qaeda.
Sources told Al-Hayat Arabic daily that all the 18 belonged to one group and included two academics, a doctor and a cleric.
"One of them was living in a European country for four years before moving to an Arab state and ending up in Saudi Arabia," the source said, adding that Saudi security agencies have been closely following up their activities.
According to an unconfirmed report, the arrested suspects included Dr. Abbas Al-Abbad who was working for Specialist Hospital, Ali Al-Haji of King Saud University, Ahmed Al-Nasser of Samba, Muhammad Al-Attiah from College of Technology in Jeddah, Ibrahim Al-Humaidi, Hussein Al-Humaidi, Badr Al-Taleb and Abdullah Al-Khamees.