Iran protests alleged U.S. spy networks

Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador Sunday to protest what it called recently uncovered U.S. espionage networks, state television reported, the day before Iran planned ambassador-level talks with the U.S. on Iraq.

Iran protests alleged U.S. spy networks

Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador Sunday to protest what it called recently uncovered U.S. espionage networks, state television reported, the day before Iran planned ambassador-level talks with the U.S. on Iraq.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry's head of American affairs met with Ambassador Philippe Welti and demanded "necessary explanation" of spy networks Iran announced it had uncovered Saturday.

The Swiss embassy has been working as the U.S. interest section in Iran ever since Washington broke its diplomatic ties with the country since 1979.

"Recently, several espionage networks were identified that were active, under guidance of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, to commit infiltration and sabotage in western, central and southwestern areas of the country," the television quoted the Iranian official, Ahmad Sobhani, as saying in the meeting.

State televison reported Saturday that the spy networks were "comprised of infiltrating elements from the Iraqi occupiers" using shorthand for the U.S and its allies.

The Iranian TV broadcast reported that Welti promised to relay Iran's protest to Washington. The White House has said it does not confirm or deny allegations about intelligence matters.

The diplomatic protest comes as the U.S. and Iran prepare to meet in Baghdad on Monday. Both sides say the talks will focus solely on the security situation in Iraq.

Also Sunday, Iran said it had no exact report about an Iranian-American employee who went missing after traveling to his homeland. Kian Tajbakhsh is one of several people believed detained in Iran amid rising tensions with the United States.

The urban planning consultant, who has also worked for the World Bank, was detained around May 11, according to George Soros' Open Society Institute.

"We have no exact report about him from official authorities," said Mohammad Ali Hosseini, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, when asked about Tajbakhsh.

The Open Society Institute has called for his release, saying he was consulting on "projects that we undertook openly and with the knowledge of the Iranian government."

Hosseini also said he had no information about another Iranian-American, Ali Shakeri, who was supposed to leave Iran and fly to Europe on May 13 but never arrived at his destination. Shakeri is a founding board member at the University of California, Irvine's Center for Citizen Peacebuilding.

Earlier this month, Iranian authorities arrested Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Iran accuses Esfandiari, also an Iranian-American, of working for a group trying to topple its government. Esfandiari's family and the center deny the claims.

Another Iranian-American, Parnaz Azima, a journalist for the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, has been prohibited from leaving Iran since her passport was seized in January. Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, disappeared in March after going to Iran's resort island of Kish.

Reporters Without Borders also has said a French-Iranian journalism student, Mehrnoushe Solouki, was arrested in February. She was released in March on bail but her passport was taken away and she has been unable to leave the country, it said.

Last Mod: 28 Mayıs 2007, 10:01
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