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Diplomat, nuclear scientist among 11 held by US: Iran media

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Dec 10, 2009
Iranian media published a list on Thursday of 11 Iranians, including a truck driver, a former diplomat and a nuclear scientist, who it claims are being held in the United States or other countries.

Mehr news agency said the foreign ministry is "vigorously" pursuing diplomatic means to obtain the release of the Iranians, three of whom have allegedly been detained in countries outside the United States on Washington's request.

Among those mentioned in the report are nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri and Alireza Asgari, a former deputy defence minister who disappeared in Turkey three years ago and has been transferred to the United States, according to Mehr, which cited unspecified documentary evidence.

The report came out on the same day Saudi Arabia strongly rebuffed claims it was involved in the disappearance of Amiri, who the Iranians claim was kidnapped in June while on pilgrimage to Mecca, and is now being held in the United States.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said earlier this week that Amiri was "abducted" by Washington with the collusion of Saudi Arabia.

Two others have also allegedly been moved to the United States.

One is Amir Hossein Ardebili, who Mehr said was arrested two years ago in Georgia and following "a show trial... is due to be sentenced next week." The other is Mahmoud Yadegari, a truck driver reportedly arrested in Canada earlier this year.

Two of those mentioned, businessman Mohsen Afrasiabi and Majid Kakavand, a student, were arrested in Germany and France, respectively, the news agency said.

A third, Nasrollah Tajik, former ambassador to Jordan, was allegedly detained in Britain. Iranian media say he was involved in nuclear deals violating US sanctions imposed on Iran.

In London, a Home Office spokesman said that Tajik, whose first name he gave as Nosratollah, was "charged for exporting defence articles from the US to Iran without a licence" and faces extradition procedures to the United States.

He was arrested in Britain on October 26, 2006 at the request of the United States and has been under conditional release pending a final decision on the extradition request, the spokesman told AFP.

Four more Iranians, Baktash Fattahi, Amir Shahrzad Amir Gholikhani, Ali Amir Nazmi and Hassan Saeed Keshari, are being held in US jails "for baseless reasons and without being tried," Iran's economic newspaper Donay-e Eqtesad said on Thursday.


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