Afghanistan busts Chinese espionage cell, demands formal apology from Beijing
DHARAMSALA, 25 Dec: Dealing a huge embarrassment for China, Afghanistan has busted a 10-member Chinese module operating a terror cell in Kabul. The 10 Chinese nationals believed to be linked to China’s spy agency were detained recently by Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) on charges of espionage and running a terror cell, the Hindustan Times reported.
Additionally, at least two out of the 10 Chinese nationals were in contact with the Haqqani Network, an Afghan guerrilla insurgent group using asymmetric warfare to fight against US-led NATO forces and the government of Afghanistan, the report added citing an unnamed senior diplomat in Kabul.
“This is the first time in years that Chinese nationals have been caught spying in Afghanistan where the country was looking at rapidly expanding its influence even as the US withdraws its troops,” the senior diplomat was quoted as saying in the report.
Citing Afghan’s President Ashraf Ghani who has been briefed about the detention of the alleged Chinese spy has entrusted the country’s first Vice President Amrullah Saleh, a former chief of the Afghan intelligence agency to oversee the investigation.
Though China has been trying to persuade Kabul to hush up the case, after meeting with the Chinese envoy in Kabul, Saleh has reportedly informed Beijing that his government could consider a pardon for the Chinese spies if Beijing submits a formal apology that admits to the violation of international norms and a betrayal of Kabul’s trust.
If Beijing fails to do so, Kabul’s first Vice President has made it clear to Beijing that the Afghan government would go ahead with criminal proceedings.