The Israeli Mossad spy agency kidnapped Iran’s former deputy defense minister from Turkey in 2007 and moved him to Israel, Tehran’s current Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Daqiqi claimed on Saturday.
Iranian security services “have a lot of evidence proving that members of the Israeli intelligence service have kidnapped [Alireza] Asgari,” Daqiqi told Iranian reporters at a ceremony marking the sixth year since Asgari disappeared while in Turkey, adding he was transferred to Israel, PressTV reported.
Asgari, who was a general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps with close ties to Hezbollah before climbing the ranks within the Defense Ministry, disappeared from Istanbul in 2007 and initial reports said he had either defected or been kidnapped by a Western intelligence agency.
Among his previous jobs, Asgari was also knowledgeable and deeply involved in Tehran’s nuclear project. A report by Israeli news site Ynet soon after Asgari’s disappearance claimed he was being held by the US, and that he “shed a new light on much of the Iranian regime’s most inner workings, especially regarding the Iranian nuclear development project.”
In 2007, the Sunday Times reported that he defected to the West, possibly to the US, quoting former Mossad chief Danny Yatom.
The report said his defection would provide Western intelligence with a new font of information about Hezbollah-Iranian ties.
“He is a significant figure,” a Western source told the paper at the time. “It has so far been very difficult to get reliable information on how Iran ran its operations in Lebanon. This could be a big break.”
In light of numerous reports claiming Asgari was abducted by foreign intelligence agencies, Iran asked the UN, Red Cross and Interpol to open an investigation into his disappearance.
Despite Tehran’s efforts, there was “no new information” on the topic, Daqiqi said at the gathering on Saturday.