Iran Identifies Most al-Qaida Members in Custody
23 Jun 2003, 12:23 UTC
Iran says it has identified most of the suspected al-Qaida members in its custody.
Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said on Monday that many of the suspects have been identified, but he refused to name them, give their positions within the terror organization or say the number being detained.
He said Tehran would extradite foreign suspects from "friendly" nations except those who are charged with committing crimes in Iran, who will remain there to be prosecuted.
Previously, Tehran said it had handed over to their countries of origin some 500 al-Qaida fighters who fled to Iran from Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taleban.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said it is "absolutely wrong" to believe that the United States intends to invade Iran. But he did repeat U.S. accusations that Iran supports terrorist groups, is developing nuclear weapons and has attempted to interfere in post-war Iraq.
Mr. Powell added that the United States encourages the recent Iranian protests against the country's Islamic clerical regime. He says people should be able to speak freely and express their concerns. But he says Washington is not backing the demonstrations as a way of fomenting trouble.
Mr. Powell spoke in Jordan at a special meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and AFP.
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