NEW YORK – A man charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States was held without bail Tuesday after his lawyer agreed during his initial court appearance to his detention for now.
Manssor Arbabsiar appeared only a few minutes in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where a U.S. magistrate advised him of his rights and asked him to confirm that he had signed an affidavit describing his financial assets.
Authorities say Arbabsiar, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen who also holds an Iranian passport, has admitted his role in a $1.5 million plot to kill the ambassador at a restaurant by setting off explosives. No plea was entered during the largely procedural court appearance because the charges are contained in a criminal complaint, rather than an indictment.
President Barack Obama’s administration has accused agents of the Iranian government of being involved in the plot. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the thwarted plot will further isolate Tehran.
The press attache at Iran’s mission to the United Nations, Alizreza Miryusefi, said the accusation was “totally baseless.”
In court papers, Arbabsiar was accused of arranging for $100,000 to be sent from a foreign country to an account in the United States that was actually held in an undercover capacity by the FBI.
A second man charged but not arrested in the case had provided Arbabsiar with thousands of dollars to pay for expenses related to the plot, authorities said.
According to the complaint, Arbabsiar was instructed to use code words when communicating with his co-defendant, including “Chevrolet” for the ambassador plot.
Arbabsiar’s court-appointed lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, made some medical requests in writing Tuesday. Outside court, she said her client needed medication for high blood pressure.
Although the next court date was set for Oct. 25, the date actually serves more commonly as a deadline for an indictment to be brought unless either side asks for an extension of time, which sometimes occurs when both sides are talking with one another.