Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hostage-taker in photo Was A MeK terrorist not Iran leader, ex-spy says

Hostage-taker in photo not Iran leader, ex-spy says: "
Hostage-taker in photo not Iran leader, ex-spy says

July 3, 2005

TEHRAN, Iran -- A top Iranian former secret agent said Saturday the hostage-taker in a 1979 photograph that has come under intense scrutiny is not President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but a former militant who committed suicide in jail.

Saeed Hajjarian, a top adviser to outgoing President Mohammad Khatami, also denied an Austrian newspaper report and claims by Iranian dissidents that Ahmadinejad had a role in the 1989 slaying of an Iranian opposition Kurdish leader and two associates in Vienna.

Ahmadinejad has been accused of taking American hostages when students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 26 years ago. Six former hostages who saw the president-elect in photos or on television said they thought Ahmadinejad was among the captors who held them for 444 days and one said he was interrogated by him. The White House said it was taking their statements seriously.

''I'm opposed to Ahmadinejad's policies and thinking but he was not involved in the hostage drama nor in the assassination of an Iranian opposition Kurdish leader in Vienna,'' Hajjarian said.

Ahmadinejad denied on Friday that he was a hostage-taker. ''It is not true,'' he said.

International media have compared photos of Ahmadinejad, who won a presidential runoff election last week, with a black-and-white picture of one of the hostage-takers, a young man with a thin, bearded face and dark hair that sweeps across his forehead.

Man identified as dissident

Hajjarian identified the man in the photo as Taqi Mohammadi.

''This man is Taqi Mohammadi, a militant who later turned into a dissident and committed suicide in jail,'' he said, pointing to the 1979 photo. Mohammadi was arrested on charges of involvement in the 1981 bombing in Tehran that killed the country's president and prime minister

Former Iranian president Abholhassan Bani-Sadr, in exile outside Paris, said Friday that Ahmadinejad ''wasn't among the decision-makers but he was among those inside the embassy.''"


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