Mar 6, 2007
Sounds Like a Defection
Iran said Tuesday its former deputy defense minister was missing while on a private trip to neighboring Turkey, and its top police chief accused Western intelligence services of possibly kidnapping the official.
Ali Reza Asghari, a retired general in the elite Revolutionary Guards and a former deputy defense minister, had arrived in Turkey on a private visit from Damascus, Syria, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday.
Iran's top police chief, Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi Moghaddam, said Iran was investigating the fate of Asghari through the Turkish police.
"It is likely that Asghari has been abducted by the Western intelligence services," IRNA quoted the Iranian police general as saying. The general did not elaborate.
In Turkey, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday it was investigating the matter, but would not confirm or deny that Asghari had disappeared or been kidnapped.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry had asked the Interior Ministry to investigate following a report from the Iranian Embassy in Ankara.
In Israel, security officials said the country's embassies and consulates had been alerted to possible attacks or kidnappings following media speculation that Israel was behind the Iranian general's disappearance. The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because such security measures are classified.
The Shin Bet, Israel's security service, would not confirm that embassy security had been ratcheted up, saying only that such decisions were made "in keeping with the developments in intelligence and on the ground."