Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ahmadinejad not man in Tehran embassy photo - CIA

Iran News: "Ahmadinejad not man in Tehran embassy photo - CIA
Reuters Fri Jul 29, 2005 5:44 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A CIA analysis has concluded a hostage-taker pictured in an old photo at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran is not Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a U.S. official said on Friday.

The analysis compared photos of Ahmadinejad and an embassy hostage-taker whom former U.S. hostages identified as the newly elected Iranian leader. It found discrepancies serious enough to suggest the two are different men.

"If there's a case to made that Ahmadinejad was one of the hostage-takers, it will not be made on the basis of those photographs," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of sensitive nature of the subject matter.

The photos were widely published in the U.S. media late last month.

The official said the photo analysis was only one part of a broad inter-agency investigation into Ahmadinejad's role in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution that severed U.S.-Iranian relations and brought Islamic rule to Iran.

Several American hostages have said they recognized Ahmadinejad from pictures published after his election, and that they believed he was one of the captors.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the State Department are trying to determine what role Ahmadinejad may have played, officials said.

Authorities have so far been able to confirm only that he was a leader of the student movement that organized the 444-day siege of the embassy in Tehran.

Ahmadinejad, who takes office on Tuesday, has denied he was involved in storming the embassy and holding 52 hostages.

The United States has not resumed diplomatic relations with Iran since that 1979-1981 hostage crisis and considers the Islamic Republic to be a state sponsor of terrorism.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on Washington and New York, President Bush labeled Iran a member of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

The Bush administration is pursuing diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon civilian uranium enrichment, which American officials say is a cover for nuclear arms development, a charge Tehran denies."

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