The AP and AFP reported that a Syrian-born American living in Virginia was arrested on Tuesday and charged with spying on U.S. activists protesting the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad. According to the Associated Press, the man, Mohamad Soueid, was gathering information about stateside activists who were voicing outrage with the Syrian regime and relaying data back to the Syrian intelligence service. He even met face-to-face with the Syrian president Assad (pictured on the above banner). Among other charges, Soueid "was charged with conspiracy and acting as a Syrian government agent in the United States without notifying the US attorney general as required by law," the AP wrote. Agence France-Presse quotes the contents of the unsealed indictment:

As part of his conspiracy, Soueid and others intended to "undermine, silence, intimidate and potentially harm persons in the United States and Syria who protested against the government of Syria and President al-Assad, all at the direction and control of the government of Syria and Syrian officials," the indictment said.

The Associated Press notes that "[t]here does not appear to be any link" between the arrest of Soueid and the Justice Department's arrests made in foiled Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.

Update: the Embassy of Syria responded with a press release countering the Department of Justice charges, calling them "a campaign of distortion and fabrications against the Embassy of Syria in the U.S.":

Regarding the US Department of Justice alleged charges against the Syrian-born naturalized U.S. citizen Mohamad Soueid, the Embassy of Syria in the United States wishes to clarify the following:

1.      Neither Mr. Soueid nor any other citizen of the U.S. is an agent of the Syrian Government.

2.      The accusation that a U.S. citizen is working with the Syrian Government to intimidate U.S. citizens is absolutely baseless and totally unacceptable.

3.      Contrary to the statement of the Department of Justice, Mr. Soueid is not an agent of any Syrian institution; he never worked under directions or control of any Syrian official.

4.      Contrary to the statement of the Department of Justice, the Syrian Government has never paid Mr. Soueid travel expenses to Syria or any amount of money for any other services. We challenge the Department of Justice to provide a single shred of evidence to prove that Mr. Soueid has ever been paid by the Syrian Government.

5.      There has never ever been a private meeting between President Assad and Mr. Soueid. This ludicrous accusation is a reflection of the poor quality of the whole set of allegations.

6.      Contrary to the statement of the Department of Justice, Mr. Soueid has never provided any individual at the Syrian Embassy in the U.S. with any information regarding U.S. protesters or otherwise. This is a flagrant effort to defame the Embassy of Syria based on sheer lies and fabrications.

7.      The Syrian Embassy in the U.S. has never recruited the services of any individual to inform on any sort of activities. We challenge the Department of Justice to provide a single evidence to the contrary.

Finally we hope that a thorough and comprehensive investigation will prove the veracity of our statement and expose the nature of those allegations for what they truly are: a campaign of distortion and fabrications against the Embassy of Syria in the U.S.