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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Asghari was never in Israel

In an earlier post, I reported on an Iranian request to the United Nations to investigate the 'disappearance' of former Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Ali Reza Asgheri. Unsurprisingly, Laura Rozen reports, based on sources in the Iranian-American exile community, that Asgheri has never been in Israel, is not being held in prison here, and did not die in prison here.
But an Iranian-American activist knowledgeable about the 2006 defection of former Iranian deputy defense minister Gen. Ali-Reza Asgari tells POLITICO that Asgari was never in Israel, and that the story that he died in Israel – or that he died at all -- is not true.

“The story is not true,” Pooya Dayanim, a Los Angeles-based Iranian pro-democracy activist told POLITICO Thursday. “I was somewhat observing this situation from the periphery from the time he left Iran. …The news is a complete fabrication and a fantasy.”

Asgari, who served as deputy defense minister under Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, disappeared while on a trip to Turkey in December 2006. Iranian officials insisted that he was kidnapped by a hostile intelligence service such as Israel’s Mossad, but Iranian-American sources have said Asgari sought asylum in the West, and that he was resettled safely abroad, and is alive. But a series of stories in the Israeli press in recent weeks about an unidentified “Prisoner X” dying in an Israeli prison has led to speculation by American blogger Richard Silverstein that the prisoner X who died was probably Asgari. Silverstein has also suggested that Prisoner X may not have commit suicide but was murdered.

Israeli journalists say Prisoner X was not Asgari, but the Israeli press is under a gag order from the court from discussing who Prisoner X was or the circumstances of his case.
My guess is that 'Prisoner X' is someone very high up on Hamas' wish list in exchange for kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, and that's why the Israeli press is under a gag order.

Read the whole thing.

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