December 11th marked the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of Iranian general Ali Reza Asgari in Turkey. Asgari’s wife on that date demonstrated outside Turkey’s Teheran embassy with her children and others. She demanded that Turkey take a tougher line with Israel and find out where he is. Here is a summary Prof. Muhammad Sahimi prepared of coverage from the Iranian media about these events (here is a link to an ISNA Farsi language report):
Mardom Salari, a reformist newspaper in Tehran, quotes her as saying that her husband “has not defected, and will never do so.”
Then, in another website, Seemorgh.com, she is says that she and her five children have gathered in front of Turkey’s embassy in Tehran on the 4th anniversary of her husband’s abduction. She says that the Turkish government is responsible, both for humane and Islamic reasons. She says that “I am 100 percent certain that Asgari was abducted by the Zionist Regime in Turkey and is kept there [in Israel].”
At another website, Peykeiran.com (belonging to the Tudeh [Communist] Party of Iran in Europe) reported that Asgari’s wife met with Turkey’s ambassador to Iran on the 4th anniversary of the abduction of her husband. She told ISNA (Iran Student News Agency) that, “We are certain that Asgari was abducted in Istanbul, Turkey, and thus Turkey’s government is responsible for finding him.” She has also said, “Turkey’s intelligence had advanced information about his abduction. We believe that they may have had a hand in his abduction.”
If what Asgari’s wife says is correct, and given that in 2007 Turkey’s military and intelligence had a far more collaborative relationship with its Israeli counterparts, one wonders whether Turkish agents, unbekownst to the Erdogan government, facilitated the kidnapping.
A week ago, I reported that an Israeli source revealed that the retired Iranian general and deputy defense minister was being held incommunicado in Ayalon Prison, which confirms 2009 claims by the Iranian government and the current protests of his wife that he is in an Israeli prison. I can now reveal that the story came to me from a political source close to the inner circle of Ehud Barak. Given that the latter is the defense minister, a figure who would be privy to the type of information exposed in this report, this adds credibility to the report.
I also wanted to address one of the major claims by the Mossad–that Asgari willingly defected to the west, settled in the U.S. and brought his family with him. The Iranian reports above put the lie to at least one portion of this narrative. Asgari’s family clearly never left Iran as claimed and is now in Iran. In addition, the U.S. government denied several years ago that it had Asgari. Prof. Sahimi also tells me that senior Revolutionary Guard officers like Asgari are the truest of true believers in the Iranian Revolution. It’s simply unfathomable that Asgari would turn his back on his decades of loyal service, leaving his entire family behind in Iran as the Mossad claims. This is a conviction confirmed by the former general’s wife as well. As far as the defection claim, it seems clear to me that as long as the Israelis had Asgari, it was in their interest to put up a smokescreen about his whereabouts. Claiming that he was an Iranian spy or that he defected to the west seems almost perfect cover for kidnapping him.
What befuddles me is why a high level Iranian official would be held in an Israeli prison rather than in a secret facility. The only way I can explain this is that perhaps Asgari no longer has any information of value to Israel and the latter wants to warehouse him and Ayalon Prison is as good a place as any; or that Asgari has defied or angered his captors and that solitary confinement in a prison is the man’s punishment.