Sunday, July 03, 2005

U.S.: Man in photo not Ahmadinejad -

U.S.: Man in photo not Ahmadinejad -: "U.S.: Man in photo not Ahmadinejad
7/3/2005 3:33:00 PM GMT

1979 file photo showing one of 60 U.S. hostages, blindfolded and with his hands bound

U.S. investigators have concluded that the man who appeared escorting an American hostage in a 1979 photograph that was published this week wasn’t Iran’s president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The conclusion casts doubt on what had been considered a key evidence indicating that Iran's new president was among the groud of Iranian students who seized control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of American hostages for 444 days.

According to U.S. official familiar with the investigation of Ahmadinejad's alleged role in 1979 U.S. embassy siege, analysts had found "serious discrepancies" between the figure in the 1979 photo and other images of Mr. Ahmadinejad, including differences in facial structure and features, the official said.

The official stressed that the investigation was continuing and that it was "still an open question" whether Ahmadinejad was involved in the hostage crisis.

Meanwhile, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that those involved in the inquiry were "searching through all the information at their disposal," and will interview former hostages.

The intelligence community was involved in the inquiry, McCormack stated.

Iran is urging the European politicians and media not to fall for a slur campaign that accuses president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of being a hostage-taker and aiding state-sponsored murders.

The Iranian president-elect Ahmadinejad has vehemently denied he was involved in storming the U.S. embassy in Tehran and holding 52 hostages for 444 days in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

One of the president-elect's aides also dismissed an accusation from an outspoken Austrian lawmaker and an opposition group that Ahmadinejad was involved in the killings of three Kurdish activists in Vienna in 1989.

"The charges are so self-evidently false they are not worthy of response," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

"We advise the Europeans not to fall into the trap of the Zionist media and to separate their interests from America and the Zionist entity," he said.

The European Union is locked with Iran in talks over its nuclear program which Washington claims is being used to build weapons. Tehran has continusouly denied the U.S.'s charges.

"The enemy has created these allegations to mask the high turnout in elections," Asefi said.

Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guard, was elected by a landslide majority last month, winning some 62 percent of votes cast on turnout of some 60 percent.

His candidacy appealed to the poor who viewed him as the candidate who would distribute Iran's abundant oil wealth more directly to them."

Xinhua - Iran: Hostage-taking allegation against Ahmadinejad sheer lies

Xinhua - English: "Iran: Hostage-taking allegation against Ahmadinejad sheer lies 2005-07-03 20:32:49

TEHRAN, July 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran on Sunday vehemently rejected a recent allegation that its President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was involved in the 1979 US hostage taking, terming it as "sheer lies",the official IRNA news agency reported.

In November 1979, five months after Iran's Islamic Revolution, a group of students, self-proclaimed to be members of "Students Following the Path of Imam", took over the US embassy in Tehran and held 52 staff hostage for 444 days.

The incident led Washington to break ties with Tehran in 1980.

In a recent interview with the Washington Times newspaper, several former American hostages said they remembered Ahmadinejad, who won Iran's presidential election on June 24, took part in the hostage-taking.

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said that such accusations are "sheer lies, unfounded and baseless".

"The Zionist and US circles adopted a false approach towards Iran's presidential election even before the polling and sometimes such a false approach was intensified," Asefi said.

Ahmadinejad's assistant has dismissed the allegation, saying he was a member of the hard-line Islamic student group, but he opposed taking hostages.

On Friday, several leading hostage-takers also denied Ahmadinejad's role in the incident.

Abdolhossein Rouholamini, one of the hostage-takers, said no student from University of Science and Technology, at which Ahmadinejad was studying at that time, participated in the hostage-taking.

"The hostage-takers were the students from Tehran University, Sharif University of Technology, Polytechnic University and National University," Rouholamini stressed."

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.''"