March 12, 2007, RFE/RL -- Relatives of former Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Ali Reza Asghari have reportedly said he was kidnapped by the United States or Israel.
Iran's semi-official Fars News agency says Asghari's family made the comment today after a visit to the Turkish Embassy in Tehran. Asghari disappeared in early February, while on a private visit to Istanbul.
Asghari was a deputy defense minister under the previous government of President Mohammad Khatami.
Iranian police chief Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam said on March 6 that Asghari had likely been kidnapped by Western intelligence services because of his background.
His disappearance has led to intense speculation in Western, Israeli and Turkish media that he may have defected to the West.
However, Asghari's wife, Ziba Ahmadi, was quoted as saying today that reports of her husband having sought political asylum were "enemy propaganda."
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