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Iran demands clarification from US on Guantanamo prisoner

Tehran, Aug 8, IRNA -- Iran has asked the United States for clarification on an Iranian who is reportedly held in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for helping the Taliban.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news briefing here Sunday that the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which looks after US interests in the Islamic Republic, had been notified.

"Right after receiving the news from Swiss embassy about the existence of an Iranian at Guantanamo prison, we asked that the identity of the person in question be clarified.

"We have asked them to provide us with the necessary information so that we can take the required measures," Asefi added.

News agencies have described the alleged Iranian detainee a 25-year-old, who, according to the US military, was a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.

The detainee has reportedly told the US military he was a cook and a driver and wasn't involved in combat. The military has disputed this, saying he was trained at a Taliban camp to use AK-47 assault rifle that he used in combat.

According to US investigators, the detainee who has been held for more than two years in Guantanamo prison, told investigators he traveled to Afghanistan to buy stereo parts and was conscripted by the Taliban.

On Friday, he reportedly refused to appear before a US military tribunal investigating his case. He is the sixth detainee out of 11 to refuse to participate since the hearings began last week.

Human rights groups have criticized the hearings because the detainees do not have access to lawyers.

No Iranian had ever been reported before as a member of the Taliban which formerly ruled Afghanistan, an immediate neighbor of Iran.

The country, where Shi'ite Islam is the dominant faith, is ideologically opposed to the Taliban, which the United States created to confront the Islamic Republic, according to Iranian leaders.

Iran, however, has a Sunni population on its borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, where rare attachment to the Taliban cannot be ruled out.

... Payvand News - 8/8/04 ... --

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