Brazil Police Arrest Iranian Man Suspected of Terror Ties


VOA News

Brazilian police have arrested an Iranian national suspected of having connections with terrorism in the city of Chui, in Rio Grand do Sul, southern region of Brazil.

Pouria Paykani had been monitored by the federal police and the Brazilian Intelligence Agency since July 15.

Local reports say a warrant for his arrest and deportation had been issued and Paykani was arrested Friday when he tried to enter Uruguay by bus.

The country’s Federal Public Ministry issued a statement saying the deportation order was issued due to his illegal situation in Brazil.

«This is a standard procedure used in cases of undocumented people, without a visa or residence in the country,» the statement said.

Folha de Sao Paulo reported that Paykani caught law enforcement’s attention in June after he was seen photographing the departure lounge of the Garulhos Airport in Sao Paulo. The man, according to police, entered Brazil in March with his Iranian passport. He allegedly went back to Garulhos twice and took more photographs. Folha reported that Paykani was questioned by police, held in contempt and then released.

Authorities then sent Paykani’s picture to all Brazilian airports and the intelligence service in charge of the Olympic Games.

It is unknown, according to Brazilian officials, if Paykani is directly engaged in «preparatory acts» for a possible attack.

Besides Paykani, Brazilian police arrested 10 people in July who were suspected of planning attacks at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes described the group as «an absolutely amateur cell» and «disorganized.»  He said some of its members had made «pro forma» declarations of allegiance to the Islamic State militant group, but none had any direct contact with IS.

The minister added that the cell was made up only of Brazilian citizens and organized through online messaging services such as WhatsApp and Telegram.

The arrests and raids were carried out across the country.

Following last month’s truck attack in the French city of Nice, Brazil increased security for the Olympic Games.

Paykani will be transferred to Sao Paulo, but Brazilian authorities did not share more details.