Albania expels 2 Iranian diplomats for security reasons

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania said Wednesday that it has expelled two Iranian diplomats for allegedly engaging in illegal activities that threaten the country’s security.

A spokesman from the Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press that the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status.” The spokesman said the move followed talks with other countries, including Israel.

A tweet from President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, provided the first report that Albania had expelled the Iranian ambassador.

Bolton praised Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama for expelling “the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated.”

“We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe,” he wrote.

Private Top Channel television said the Iranians were suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualifying match between Albania and Israel two years ago. About 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo following that match, which was threatened with an alleged terrorist plot.

Albanian officials would not confirm that report.

Albania is also home to more than 2,000 members of the Iranian exile opposition group Mujahedin el-Khalk, which moved from Iraq.