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Cyprus extends custody of suspect Israel says was Iran 'hit man'

Giant national flag of Cyprus on October 1, 2020 [AKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images]
Giant national flag of Cyprus on October 1, 2020 [AKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP via Getty Images]

A court in Cyprus today extended the detention of a man that Israel alleges was a would-be assassin recruited by Iran to attack Israeli businesspeople on the island, Reuters reports.

The man was arrested in the Cypriot capital Nicosia on 27 September. Police say that when he has intercepted a pistol with a silencer were found in his rental vehicle.

Israel said it was a "terrorist incident directed by Iran" against Israelis on the island, a charge dismissed as "baseless" by the Iranian embassy in Nicosia.

Police have been tight-lipped about the incident. The suspect was taken to a district court in Nicosia today, where the order remanding him in custody was extended until Monday.

The suspect has not been charged and officials have not identified him, beyond describing him as an ethnic Azeri with a Russian passport.

READ: Iran tried to kill Israeli businessman in Cyprus, Bennett says

"Investigations are proceeding at a rapid pace," police spokesman Christos Andreou told state TV. He declined to comment on the Israeli claims, citing the ongoing investigation.

Cyprus's authoritative Phileleftheros daily said the suspect, thought to have arrived in Cyprus 20 days prior to his arrest, was not cooperating with police.

Yesterday the suspect indicated to police where he had rented two cars, from the resort town of Ayia Napa in the south-east of the island.

Police have not traced where the suspect was staying prior to his arrest, the newspaper said. Authorities believe he may have been staying in the Turkish-held north of the ethnically split island, it said.

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