US official: Former Iranian deputy defense minister providing information on Hizbullah
A former Iranian deputy defense minister who once commanded the Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon has left his country and is cooperating with Western intelligence agencies, providing information on Hizbullah and Iran's ties to this Lebanese organization, a senior US official told Washington Post on Thursday.
Ali Reza Asgari disappeared last month during a visit to Istanbul. Iranian officials have suggested that he may have been kidnapped by Israel or the United States. On his part, the American official said Asgari is cooperating of his own free will. He made clear that the information Asgari is offering is fully available to US intelligence.
The Saudi al Watan daily reported Thursday that Tehran and Ankara have been involved in intensive talks regarding the prove over Asgari's whereabouts. It was reported that a security team from Iran is expected soon in Turkey for further discussions on this issue.
Iranian officials said he was not involved in the country's nuclear plan, and the senior US official said Asgari is not being questioned about it.
Another US official claimed that Asgari's disappearance was voluntary and orchestrated by the Israelis.
"He has been out of the loop for four or five years now," the official said.
Turkish newspapers reported that Asgari disappeared in Istanbul shortly after he arrived there from Damascus on Feb. 7.
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