The Straits Times
Published on Oct 18, 2012

Man pleads guilty to Iranian plot against ambassador


NEW YORK (AFP) - Former car salesman Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty on Wednesday to conspiring with the Iranian military to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States (US) in a plot as lurid as any airport thriller.

Appearing at the New York federal court where he had been due to stand trial in January, the Iranian-American entered a surprise guilty plea. He faces up to 25 years in prison at his sentencing, which was set for Jan 23.

Judge John Keenan asked Arbabsiar: "Is it true that about the spring of 2011 up until the fall of 2011 that you and your co-conspirators... who were officials in the Iranian military, that you agreed to cause the assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the US?" "Yes," he replied, pleading guilty to three counts.

Arbabsiar was arrested in September last year at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport, triggering a major legal and diplomatic drama between Washington and Teheran, amid already tense relations.