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U.S. Woman Said Detained In Iran 'Did Not Use Armenian Territory'

January 07, 2011

Armenian authorities have insisted that a U.S. woman reportedly detained in neighboring Iran on suspicion of espionage did not travel to Iran from Armenia.

Iran's state run "Iran" newspaper reported this week that the 55-year-old woman -- identified as Hall Talayan -- was detained as she attempted to cross the Armenian-Iranian border. The newspaper claimed an espionage device was found in her teeth and she had no Iranian visa.

Iran's state-run television said subsequently that she did actually not manage to enter Iran via the border with Armenia. The station quoted a "well-informed" source as saying that she "tried to enter the country illegally, but she was prevented from doing so." It said the woman is in Armenia.

Armenia's National Security Service (NSS), which runs all Armenian border crossings, denied this, however. "A person with that identity did not enter Armenia and could have therefore not left Armenia," NSS spokesman Artsvin Baghramian said in a written statement.

The U.S. State Department has cited "conflicting reports" and said it was seeking more information through the U.S. Embassy in Armenia and Swiss officials, who represent U.S. interests in Iran.

Iranian authorities have not publicly reacted to the report.

In July, Iran arrested three American hikers -- a woman and two men -- near the border with Iraq and accused them of illegally crossing into Iran to commit espionage, a charge they and the U.S. State Department deny.

The two men, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, remain in jail awaiting trial, which could take place in February. The woman, Sara Shourd, was released in September on humanitarian grounds after posting $500,000 bail.

The State Department has repeatedly called on Iran to release the two men.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/us_woman_said_detained_iran_not_use_armenia/2269971.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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