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Armenia Denies Alleged Spy Entry Into Iran

VOA News
07 January 2011

An Armenian security agency says it has no record of a woman crossing into Iran on an alleged American spy mission.

The French news agency reported Friday that Armenia's National Security Service has no evidence that a U.S. citizen named Hall Talayan crossed the border as Iran alleges.

Iranian media reports Thursday first said an American woman Iran describes as the 55-year-old Talayan had been arrested and was concealing spy equipment in her teeth, which included a microphone.

Iran's state television later on Thursday contradicted those accounts, saying authorities denied Talayan entry into Iran because she did not have a visa and ordered her back to Armenia.

But Armenian officials said Friday they have no record of a woman by that name crossing in or out of Armenia.

Iranian media sources had said authorities arrested Talayan about a week ago as she tried to enter the country from Armenia at the Nordouz border town without a visa.

A U.S. State Department spokesman told VOA the United States is aware of the reports and is looking into them. He said the State Department cannot confirm an arrest or whether the woman is an American citizen.

The spokesman said the U.S. has been in touch about the reports with Swiss authorities, who handle U.S. interests in Tehran. Iran has no diplomatic relations with the United States.

Iran is currently holding Americans Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer on spying charges after the hikers allegedly crossed the border from northern Iraq in July of 2009. In September, Tehran released a third hiker, Sarah Shourd, who was arrested with them on $500,000 bail.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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