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Iranian Diplomat Claims He Was Tortured In Iraq

April 7, 2007 -- An Iranian diplomat freed after being abducted in Iraq today said he was "tortured" by his captors, among them U.S. forces.

Iran's official IRNA news agency quotes Jalal Sharafi -- who was abducted in Baghdad in February -- as saying he was kidnapped by "officials who had Iraqi Defense Ministry identification cards and were riding in American forces vehicles."

He said he was transferred to a base near Baghdad airport and was questioned by Arabic-speaking and English-speaking interrogators. He says the questions were mainly about the Iranian presence and involvement in Iraq. He said he was "severely tortured" during his ordeal.

Tehran has said that since the United States oversees Iraq's Defense Ministry, it was therefore at least complicit in the abduction of Sharafi. Washington denies Tehran's charge.

Washington has previously denied Tehran's charge, and today reiterated it. with White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe saying "the United States had nothing to do with Mr. Sharafi's detention."

Sharafi's abduction came at a time of heightened tension between Iran and the United States over the arrest of five Iranians in northern Iraq in January on suspicion of involvement with insurgents.

(AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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