ABU DHABI, 24th February 2016 (WAM) — A cell of 32 people in Saudi Arabia accused of spying for Iran includes a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh and a student at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University, the Saudi Gazette newspaper reported today.

The charges against the suspects included establishing an espionage cell in favour of Iran, meetings with Iranian intelligence elements and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, passing over to Iran secret information about the Kingdom’s military installations and national security, plotting to sabotage vital military and financial establishments in the Kingdom and illegally acquiring arms and ammunition.

The suspects included an academician who held the job of “development researcher” at the Ministry of Education for more than 25 years.

The attorney general charged them with high treason and asked the Criminal Court in Riyadh for capital punishment. Court sources told the newspaper that one of the defendants was assigned three lawyers to defend him while another gave power of attorney to eight members of his own family. The suspects also included an Afghan national and an Iranian who appeared in court on Tuesday.

The sources said the judge noted the presence of a large number of lawyers assigned to the defendants, as well as the defendants’ wives and other family members. The judge, according to the sources, made it clear to the defendants that he would not mind the large number of representatives but said their attendance would depend on the available space in the court.

The judge allowed the families and relatives to attend the court sessions.

The judge handed out to each defendant a list of charges and fixed certain dates next month for them to submit their written or verbal replies.