The mystery of the missing Iranian ex-general deepens
According to the Times of London, the retired Iranian general who was reported to have disappeared in Turkey had already been a Western intelligence asset: AN Iranian general who defected to the West last month had been spying on Iran since 2003 when he was recruited on an overseas business trip, according to Iranian sources. ...
AN Iranian general who defected to the West last month had been spying on Iran since 2003 when he was recruited on an overseas business trip, according to Iranian sources.
This weekend Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, 63, the former deputy defence minister, is understood to be undergoing debriefing at a Nato base in Germany after he escaped from Iran, followed by his family.
A daring getaway via Damascus was organised by western intelligence agencies after it became clear that his cover was about to be blown. Iran’s notorious secret service, the Vavak, is believed to have suspected that he was a high-level mole.
The Financial Times, however, contradicts this story:
A former senior Iranian official added on Sunday to the mystery over Ali-Reza Asgari, the former deputy defence minister who disappeared in Turkey last month, by saying his family was still in Tehran.
This contradicted intelligence leaks to western and Israeli media outlets that Mr Asgari had defected, taking his family and a raft of Iran’s security secrets with him.
But the former official, a friend of Mr Asgari, told the FT there was no consensus in Tehran’s political circles over what had happened to Mr Asgari, after Iran’s police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said last week he had probably been “abducted by western intelligence services”.
This isn’t the first time different media outlets have contradicted each other over this story. The Washington Post reported on Thursday, March 8, that Asgari was “cooperating with Western intelligence agencies … according to a senior U.S. official.” But Fox News flatly contradicted the story later that day, citing “a senior U.S. official” as the source.
Whatever the truth of the story, you can be sure that somebody is spreading disinformation to the media about Asgari’s fate. It should be relatively easy to confirm whether his family is in Tehran, however, no?
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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