Interpreter 'betrayed Britain to spy for Iran after suffering racism in the Army', Daniel James aka Esmail (Essi) Gamasai.
The interpreter for the British commander of Allied troops in Afghanistan betrayed his country after becoming embittered by racism, the Old Bailey heard today. Daniel James, 45 (his photo), secretly passed information to Iran, the country of his birth, through a contact in Kabul, the jury was told.
He was not motivated by politics or ideology but from "a mixture of elements," the court heard. "He had become aggrieved and somewhat bitter at his lack of promotion, particularly given his work in Afghanistan," said Mark Dennis QC, prosecuting, in his opening speech.
"He began to complain to others about what he perceived as discrimination against him in the army - linking racist attitudes to his lack of promotion."
But Mr Dennis pointed out much of his motivation was also down to "the character of the man himself" - an extrovert, self important and "something
of a Walter Mitty character.
"He turned his back on those with whom he was serving in Afghanistan and sought to become an agent for a foreign power to provide information which would or might be of use to those who were engaged in active conflict with the peace-keeping force." Tehran-born Daniel James aka Esmail (Essi) Gamasai, had become a British citizen in 1986, holds both a British and Iranian passport and took his Anglicised name, Daniel James, by deed poll.
He joined the Territorial Army and became a corporal attached to the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. In 2006 he was called up to serve in Afghanistan and served as an interpreter using his knowledge of the Afghan tongue Dari and his native language Farsi. In May 2006 he was transferred to work for General David Richards, the overall commander of the multi-national force operating under a mandate from the Untied Nations. James was said to have been in contact with Colonel Mohammad Hossein Heydari, an Iranian military assistant based at Tehran's embassy in Kabul. Within six months James had established his clandestine relationship with Heydari and "no doubt found it as something exciting and special," said Mr Dennis.
He opened an internet account under a false name and sent his contact an e-mail pledging "I am at your service." He is accused of communicating information to another person prejudicial to the safety or interests of the state potentially useful to an enemy, and collecting documents on a memory stick useful to an enemy.