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IRAN: Israel accused of holding diplomats missing from Lebanon

July 4, 2008 | 11:08 am


Iranians claim they have documents and testimony proving that four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon during the war-ravaged 1980s are still alive and languishing in Israeli prisons.

Iranian authorities announced this week that the mystery of four Iranian diplomats might  be revealed soon. The three diplomats and a state-employed photographer were allegedly kidnapped by Christian militiamen in 1982.

Earlier, the formerly pro-Israeli Lebanese Forces militia leaders who detained the four Iranians during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Beirut have said they were executed in Lebanon.

But the issue is surfacing again. Israel is supposed to hand over information about the fate of the missing diplomats to the United Nations as part of a prisoner swap between the Jewish state and the Shiite militant group Hezbollah over the next few weeks. 

At a ceremony this week marking the 26th anniversary of the disappearance of the diplomats held in Beirut, the Iranian Charge d'Affaires Mojtaba Ferdowsi-Pour accused Israelis of secretly holding the diplomats:

Our brother diplomats kidnapped in 1982 during the Zionist invasion of Lebanon are still detained in Israel and all news which has been provided to us proves it.

Also present at the ceremony was the son of one of the missing diplomats, Raed Mousavi, who said that they got information from former prisoners held in Israeli jails:

Documents and testimonies by detainees in Israeli prisons, and the fact that Israel has not published any documents proving their martyrdom, shows our loved ones are still alive.

Meanwhile, media in Israel have quoted Israeli officials as dismissing the Iranian statements about the diplomats as "nonsense." An Israeli government official was quoted in the Jerusalem Post in an article posted today on the newspaper's website:

This is not serious.... It is a fabricated claim. They did not disappear here, but in Lebanon. We have nothing to do with the matter.

— Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki sits in front of a portrait of four Iranian diplomats who disappeared in Lebanon 26 years ago. Credit: File photo