Missing Iranian general’s family suspects Israel
Family of Ali Reza Asgari, Iran’s former deputy defense minister who disappeared from Turkey last month, visits Turkish embassy in Tehran demanding information on his whereabouts. Asgari’s wife rejects reports he defected to West, smuggled family out of Iran: ‘We are here, those are our enemies lies’
His wife Ziba Asgari, 46, contended Western reports that Asgari was a spy and smuggled his family out of Iran prior to his escape. “We are here. Those are mere rumors being spread by the enemies,” she said.
His 20-year-old daughter Alham told journalists she was certain Israel or the United States kidnapped him, as they are Iran’s main enemies. “My father worked hard for the regime and he had many enemies due to his position,” she was quoted by Fars, the Iranian news agency.
According to the Fars report, Asgari’s wife, two daughters, son and brother arrived at the Turkish embassy in Tehran Monday seeking information on his whereabouts and met with Deputy Ambassador Dorim Ozturk.
Asgari’s brother demanded answers from the Turkish representatives, who noted that the matter was being examined and vowed to help as much as they could.
“We tried to check for ourselves if there was any new news. We’re very concerned. I really miss my father,” Alham told reporters.
Ziba, 46, said the since her husband retired from military positions, he was an olive and olive oil merchant in Syria. She said the family had last been in contact with him in December.
On December 7, she said, Asgari traveled from Damascus to Istanbul and checked into a hotel. Two days later, they lost contact with him.
“We were in touch with him until Friday, December 8, but on Saturday, we lost contact. His cell phone was turned off and we started to be concerned,” Ziba said.
She rejected outright various reports that her husband defected to the West after smuggling his family to a safe place.
“He had no problems in Iran that would make him want to escape. Someone seeking refuge takes his family with him,” she said.
On Sunday the British newspaper The Sunday Times reported that Asgari had been spying on Iran since 2003 when he was recruited on an overseas business trip.
Asgari, 63, was apparently at a NATO base in Germany undergoing a debriefing, the report said.
According to the Times, a daring getaway via Damascus was organized by western intelligence agencies after it became clear that his cover was about to be blown. Iran’s notorious secret service, the Vavak, is believed to have suspected that he was a high-level mole, the report said.
London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Friday that upon his disappearance Asgari was carrying documents and maps that shed light on Iran’s military and the Revolutionary Guards' links to Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, the “Mahadi Army” and the “Badr Corps” (military forces of The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq).
Last week an official American intelligence source told the Washington Post that Israel had orchestrated Asgari’s defection to the West and that he was was cooperating with his questioners and divulging classified information on Iran.