Report: Missing Iranian defected to U.S.

Published: March. 6, 2007 at 1:41 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, March 6 (UPI) -- Reports emerged in an Arabic newspaper that an Iranian general missing from Turkey has defected to the United States.

The al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Tuesday quoted unidentified sources as saying Ali Reza Asghari was not abducted but departed for the United States soon after arriving in Istanbul on Feb. 7.

Asghari was a former defense minister and also was a general in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. In recent days, allegations came from Iran that either the CIA or Israel's Mossad intelligence agency was behind his disappearance, Haaretz reported from Jerusalem.

The last thing known publicly about Asghari was that he left Tehran for Damascus and flew to Istanbul on a personal trip and checked into a hotel.

There was no immediate response from U.S. officials on the report.

© 2007 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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