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10/17/11

Iran Wants Access To Suspect In Saudi Death Plot

Source: RFE/RL

Manssor Arbabsiar pictured in a mugshot from a 2001 arrest for theft
Manssor Arbabsiar, pictured in a mugshot from a 2001 arrest for theft, is the main suspect in the alleged plot

Iran is demanding access to the man being held in the United States in connection with an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador. Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the charge d'affairs of Switzerland -- which represents U.S. interests in Iran -- to demand consular access to Manssor Arbabsiar.

Arbabsiar, who holds both Iranian and American passports, was arrested by U.S. officials in September in an alleged plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir.

U.S. officials say Arbabsiar had paid an undercover U.S. agent posing as a hit man for a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.

U.S. officials say Arbabsiar was given his orders by his cousin Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking member of the Quds Force, the Iranian security force.

Earlier, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed a strong response to any "inappropriate measure by the West." He accused Washington of concocting the plot to divert attention from the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, dismissed the U.S. accusations as a fabricated "scenario."

Quoted by Iran's official news agency IRNA, Ahmadinejad said, "Iran is a civilized nation and doesn't need to resort to assassination."

Meanwhile, media in Saudi Arabia report the country wants the UN Security Council to take up the matter, in a move analysts says could mean more sanctions imposed on Iran.

The Saudi step follows remarks by U.S. President Barack Obama that he would press for "the toughest possible sanctions" against Iran over the alleged plot.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said on October 12 that Iran "was responsible" for the alleged plot and said Riyadh would adopt a "measured response."

Copyright (c) 2011 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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