Friday, December 29, 2006

Report: Two Iranians held by U.S. troops in Iraq are released

TEHRAN, Iran - Two Iranians detained by American troops in Iraq and suspected of transferring weapons technology to insurgents in that country were released early Friday, Iran’s state-run television and news agency reported.

The U.S. military had no immediate comment. There was also no immediate response from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Iranian state TV referred to the Iranians as diplomats and said the release happened Friday.

The two were handed over to Iranian officials in the presence of Iraq’s National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie, said Iran’s state-run news agency, IRNA.

Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, said the arrest of the two diplomats was against internationally accepted regulations, IRNA said.

“Fortunately with the effort exerted by the Iraqi officials, the U.S. forces, who first denied their arrest, were obliged to admit it and under pressure from the Iraqi government to release them,” IRNA quoted Qomi as saying.

The White House said earlier this week that U.S. troops had detained at least two Iranians and released two others who had diplomatic immunity. A White House spokesman said the Iranians were taken into custody during a raid on suspected insurgents.

On Thursday, a Pentagon official said U.S. forces had found “indications and evidence that all of the people rounded up, including the two Iranians, are involved in the transfer of IED technologies from Iran to Iraq.” IED stands for improvised explosive devices, or small bombs that are commonly used in attacks in Iraq.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information had not yet been made public, said that U.S. forces were working out ways to turn over the Iranians to the Iraqis.

A spokesman for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said Monday that the two detained Iranians were in the country at his invitation.

Read the rest at the Boston Herald

Related Link:
Exile Group: Captured Iranians Were Part of Elite Force

Related Link:
Iraqi President Talabani upset by arrest of Iranians by U.S. forces

Related Link:
U.S. Holding Iranians Seized in Iraq Raids

Related Link:
Iraqi president says security deal reached with Iran

Related Link:
Iraqi President Seeks Iran's Help