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Thursday, April 12, 2007

US Refuses to release Iranians taken at Irbil

Not a peep about Iraq asking for the release of the Iranians. It is taken for granted that the sovereign Iraq has nothing to do with the thousands of persons jailed by coalition forces in coalition, mostly US, jails. Where is the outrage that a quasi consulate was raided people seized and jailed without charge. Of course holding people without charge is now an accepted without question world wide.


US rules out freeing Iranians, rejects torture charge by Olivier Knox
Wed Apr 11, 1:41 PM ET



WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Wednesday ruled out freeing five Iranians in US custody in Iraq and rejected Tehran's charge that it tortured another during a two-month captivity in the war-torn country.

Iran has warned it is unlikely to attend a May ministerial conference in Egypt on Iraq's security unless Washington releases the five, whom US authorities seized in a raid in northern Iraq in January.

Asked whether the United States was prepared to free them, White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe curtly replied: "No."

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said there was "no reason in the world why they should not attend this conference if they truly had an interest in being supportive of Iraq, Iraqi people and the Iraqi government."

"It's not about the US and Iran, it's not about anything else other than Iraq," he said, telling reporters that the United States "would not recognize" any linkage between the fate of the five and Iran's presence at the talks.

McCormack said that an Iranian request for access to the five was "still being considered."

Johndroe also rejected charges from Iranian state television that the United States had severely abused an Iranian diplomat during a two-month captivity in Iraq, saying that the United States had nothing to do with his plight.

"The United States was not involved in his detention, and any suggestion of torture is baseless," Johndroe said after Iranian television showed footage of Jalal Sharafi's wounds and called them proof of US torture.

The United States has long accused Iran of improperly meddling in Iraq, of aiding militias and other forces that have targeted US-led troops since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime four years ago.

US forces arrested five Iranians during a raid in northern Iraq in January, and has accused them of seeking to stir trouble in Iraq and has detained them ever since. Iran says the men are diplomats who were working for a "consulate."

Iraq has said the ministerial level meeting of its neighboring countries and world powers will be held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt between May 3-4.

"We told the Iraqi officials that as long as the Iranian diplomats are not freed, the idea of Iran attending any conference along with the United States will encounter serious problems and obstacles," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the hardline Kayhan newspaper.

Tehran has repeatedly called for their release. Washington has responded by saying they are being detained pending an investigation, although it has not announced any formal charges against them.

In the Sharafi case, Washington has steadfastly denied any involvement, and Johndroe welcomed his release when it was announced last week.

But Iranian state television on Wednesday showed footage of Sharafi in hospital, his feet badly bruised and body covered by sensors, as he was visited by the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Iran, Peter Stocker.

"The United States, whose officials make claims about human rights, drilled holes into the legs of Jalal Sharafi and there were signs of damage to his nose and neck," state television said.

Washington has denied any role in the detention of Sharafi, who was freed on April 3 amid the standoff between London and Tehran over the captured British sailors who were released the next day.

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