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Iran To Try 3 US Hikers – In Retaliation

From a secretly pleased Associated Press:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki

Iran to try 3 Americans who crossed Iraqi border

By Nasser Karimi, Associated Press Writer Mon Dec 14

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Monday it would try three Americans jailed since crossing the border from Iraq in July, a step certain to aggravate the U.S. at a time when Tehran is locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki did not say when proceedings would begin or specify the charge other than to say the Americans had "suspicious aims." In November, however, authorities accused the Americans of spying.

There are concerns in the U.S. that Iran could use them as bargaining chips in talks over its nuclear program or in seeking the return of Iranians they say are missing.

Relatives and the U.S government say the three were innocent tourists on a hiking trip in northern Iraq and accidentally crossed into Iran, where they were arrested on July 31.

"They will be tried by Iran’s judiciary system and verdicts will be issued," Mottaki said at a news conference, without elaborating in detail. He said the three were still being interrogated…

In November, Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said the three "have been accused of espionage." But it was not clear from his brief comments whether formal charges had been filed against the Americans.

Raising concerns that Iran might be seeking to use them in a deal, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad noted last month that the United States was holding several Iranian citizens.

In particular, he drew a link between the case of the three Americans and the trial in the U.S. of Amir Hossein Ardebili, an Iranian who faces up to 140 years in prison after pleading guilty to plotting to ship sensitive U.S. military technology to Iran.

According to court papers, Ardebili worked as a procurement agent for the Iranian government and acquired thousands of components, including military aircraft parts, night vision devices, communications equipment and Kevlar. U.S. federal authorities targeted him in 2004 after he contacted an undercover storefront set up in Philadelphia to investigate illegal arms trafficking.

As the article notes, it is highly probable that this latest show trial might be an attempt to get back an Iraqi nuclear scientist who is rumored to have defected to the US.

From the UK’s Telegraph:

Iranian scientist who vanished ‘gave nuclear secrets’ to UN inspectors sent to Qom site

An Iranian scientist who vanished six months ago has revealed secrets of his country’s nuclear programme with international weapons inspectors, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

By Philip Sherwell in New York and Peter Allen in Paris

12 Dec 2009

Shahram Amiri briefed United Nations nuclear monitors in a clandestine meeting at Frankfurt airport just hours before they flew to Iran to inspect a hidden uranium enrichment plant, according to French intelligence sources.

An award-winning atomic physicist, Mr Amiri had worked at the heavily-guarded underground site at Qom. He was attached to a Tehran university named by the EU last year as part of the regime’s nuclear-proliferation operations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was told of the existence of the Qom facility by the US and its European allies in September. But the meeting with Mr Amiri in October would have provided inspectors with key insider knowledge before they made the sensitive trip.

The scientist is the focus of an extraordinary international row stretching from the Gulf to Washington after Iran last week accused Saudi Arabia and the US of "terrorist behaviour" for allegedly colluding in his abduction.

The nuclear scientist, who is in his 30s, disappeared after arriving in in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage in late May, leaving behind his wife and extended family. The Saudi authorities say they do not know where he is.

But contrary to Iranian claims, Mr Amiri actually defected after an elaborate international cloak-and-dagger co-ordinated by the CIA, according to a well-connected French intelligence analysis website.

"The agency made contact with the scientist last year when Amiri visited Frankfurt in connection with his research work," Intelligence Online reported. "A German businessman acted as go-between. A final contact was made in Vienna when Amiri travelled to Austria to assist the Iranian representative at the IAEA. Shortly afterwards, the scientist went on pilgrimage to Mecca and hasn’t been seen since."

The vanishing act was reminiscent of Cold War days between the Soviet Union and the West when spies – often scientists and diplomats – were spirited away in plots just as outlandish as any John le Carré thriller.

Heads have rolled at Iran’s nuclear counter-espionage agency since his loss, and the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, raised his case in a private meeting with the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

The Islamic republic has now linked the fate of three American hikers detained in Iran since July with a list of Iranian citizens, including Mr Amiri, who Tehran alleges are being held by the US. It appears to be proposing some form of trade in talks with Swiss intermediaries.

Officially, the US says it has no information on Mr Amiri’s whereabouts, but the scientist is now believed to be in Europe, protected by a Western intelligence agency, in a CIA-led operation. He will be debriefed intensively by experts – who will also want to ensure that he is not an Iranian plant.

Four months after Mr Amiri disappeared, President Barack Obama, flanked by Gordon Brown and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, disclosed that Iran had built the buried uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

Western intelligence had developed information about the site over threee years.

But Mr Amiri’s intelligence about its inner workings – and especially security procedures – proved "extremely useful", a source close to France’s overseas secret service, the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure), told The Sunday Telegraph.

"Amiri has first hand knowledge of the site and this would have been the main subject of discussion," the source said. "The meeting was so secret that the inspectors who met Amiri were unlikely to have even known his name, let alone his background. He was just presented as a bona fide contact in the know about how Qom works."

French agents party to details of the Frankfurt meeting paint a picture of Amiri as one of the brightest young nuclear physicists of his generation, westernised and a good English-speaker.

"He would be an obvious conduit of information," said a source. "Why would the Iranians show four UN inspectors everything unless they knew what to ask for?"

The CIA launched a secret programme, dubbed "the Brain Drain", in 2005 designed to undermine Iran’s nuclear programme by persuading key officials to defect. In the biggest previous coup, Revolutionary Guards general Ali Reza Asgari, the deputy defence mnister, vanished on a trip to Turkey in 2007.

It really is just like the bad old days of the Cold War.

Only more dangerous.

Say what you will about the Russkies, they were not true believers in an insane cult.

(Thanks to Sheehanjihad for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 14th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

9 Responses to “Iran To Try 3 US Hikers – In Retaliation”

  1. sheehanjihad says:

    This is one of those things that makes you say…”hmmmmmmm”. Seems like things in Iran arent as peachy as the ruling party wants everyone to think. This, as well as the Military stating they wont back the Revolutionary Guard in an all out crackdown….well, you decide.

    Iranian scientist who vanished ‘gave nuclear secrets’ to UN inspectors sent to Qom site
    An Iranian scientist who vanished six months ago has revealed secrets of his country’s nuclear programme with international weapons inspectors………

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/6797860/Iranian-scientist-who-vanished-gave-nuclear-secrets-to-UN-inspectors-sent-to-Qom-site.html

    The intelligence community better keep their mouths shut or they will be tried by the Administration for being “naughty”…….I hope they keep this to themselves and use it when the time comes.

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    I guess this means that Northern Iraq is off the college “Hot Spot” list for Spring Break.
    Shouldn’t Code Pink offer themselves up to take these young miscreants place?
    Either way…..no big loss!

  3. GetBackJack says:

    Buncha anti-war knuckleheads in league with Iran to crate chaos for the USA.

    You wanna these three are part of this panties-in-a-wad drama?

  4. catie says:

    I wish I could feel sorry for these twerps but I don’t & I can’t. I think they are getting exactly what they deserve, although I’m pretty sure that before their trial starts or judgment is passed, they’ll be released.

  5. wardmama4 says:

    Do you think The Won might try a ‘hostage’ rescue just like another worthless POTUS he is attempting to emulate?

    Personally I keep hoping that the JFK emulation goes all the way – although I think 1000 days of Obama will be 999 to many.

  6. joeblough says:

    Well the Persians might have reasonable grounds for suspicion.

    I mean, what kind of moron goes on a vacation hike in northern god-damned Iraq!

    It is kind of hard to believe that anybody is that stupid.

    • U NO HOO says:

      Who with a right mind would even go to Iran or Iraq unless they are in the US’s or its allies’ military and were sent there by a commander in chief.

      Mark “I Was on the Appalachian Trail” Sanford comes to mind.

      I mean, who cares?

  7. proreason says:

    I’m hoping the Moron will travel to Iran to negotiate one-on-one with akmamutjob.

  8. NoNeoCommies says:

    There are real Iranian spies in the US right now. Even if it has no chance of gaining the release of these twits, we should grab some of these real spies with real evidence and try them in a real court. While we are at it, we should use any excuse to refuse entry to any and all Iranian UN representatives coming to New York.
    The Iraqi government could possibly help as well by shooting a few “spies” as they smuggle weapons across the border.


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