World Bulletin / News Desk
Iranian and Turkish officials have been in contact and are looking for clues about the fate of a senior Iranian official who Tehran says was kidnapped from a hotel in İstanbul in 2006 and killed by Israel.
Iran's former deputy defense minister, Ali Reza Asgari, allegedly disappeared during a visit to İstanbul in December 2006. Iran insists he was kidnapped by Israeli agents and transferred to a prison in Israel, or occupied Palestine, as Iran calls it.
The issue came to the fore once again when the Israeli media reported last week the suicide of an unidentified prisoner in solitary confinement in Ayalon Prison. The Eurasia Review website later claimed a source within the “inner circle” of the Israeli defense ministry had identified the prisoner as Asgari and that his death could have been murder and not suicide.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on Tuesday that Tehran held many talks with Turkish officials in the past to clarify questions about Asgari's disappearance.
Mehmanparast said that “consultations are currently underway with Turkey to find clues to the fate of the missing Iranian,” Iran's Press TV reported on its website.
The Turkish government, which has been building closer political and economic ties with Iran since 2002, has so far been silent about the Iranian request for help in the Asgari case. Asked by Cihan news agency to comment on the case, a Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity briefly said on Monday that “Turkey did not hand anyone to anyone else.” The brief comment came in apparent response to the head of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who on Sunday called on Ankara to “disclose the names of the terrorists affiliated with the Mossad spy agency.”
Mehmanparast on Monday also suggested that Israeli media have officially confirmed that the former Iranian official has been kept in prisons of the regime, saying, “The Zionist regime is responsible for Asgari's safety.”
Describing “Israel's kidnapping of Asgari and four other Iranian diplomats in Lebanon” as “state terrorism,” the spokesperson noted that Iran has been continuing its efforts to involve the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the Asgari issue.
Since the reports of suicide came out, Iranian officials have appealed to the United Nations and the international community to learn about the fate of Asgari and get Asgari's body back -- if he is really dead. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week to help clarify the fate of Asgari. He also said Israel is “directly responsible” for Asgari's life and called for an “opportune response from the international community and especially the organizations responsible for international peace and security.”
Iran in contact with Turkey to find clues about Asgari
Iranian and Turkish officials have been in contact and are looking for clues about the fate of a senior Iranian official.
World Bulletin / News Desk