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Reports: Saudis 'Detain' Vulture Accused Of Being Israeli Spy

A griffon vulture marked with wing-tag stands inside of the unique vultures sanctuary on the northern island of Cres in Croatia. Hrvoje Polan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Hrvoje Polan/AFP/Getty Images

A griffon vulture marked with wing-tag stands inside of the unique vultures sanctuary on the northern island of Cres in Croatia.

Hrvoje Polan/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Saudi officials have detained a griffon vulture on suspicions that it was working for the Israeli spy agency Mossad. The vulture was outfitted with a GPS device inscribed with "Tel Aviv University," and according to Haaretz that prompted the suspicions.

The BBC reports what wildlife experts told Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv:

Israeli officials told Ma'ariv they were "stunned" by the allegations and concerned that the bird could meet a horrible punishment in the notoriously severe Saudi justice system.

"The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed," a bird specialist at Israel's Park and Nature Authority told the newspaper.

The data would be used to improve understanding of the endangered species' behaviour.

The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan reports that a family caught the bird in the city of Ha'il and turned it into authorities. They also have a photo purported to be of the captured vulture.

The BBC notes this isn't the first time an animal's been accused to spying. Last December, South Sinai governor, Mohamed Abdul Fadil Shousha, said he could not discount that Mossad had planted killer sharks in the Red Sea to negatively impact Saudi Egyptian tourism.

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