July 16, 2009

Washington Times: U.S. held three Iranians as “hostages”

Barbara Slavin at the Washington Times has an exclusive story about the three Iranians who were arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq over two years ago:

Three members of Iran’s elite Quds Force who were seized in Iraq by the United States were held for more than two years even though they had not been involved in anti-U.S. activities and were functioning as diplomats at the time, a former and a currently serving senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
The former official, who served in Iraq and was in a position to know about the issue but asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic, said that the three – who were turned over to the Iraqis last week and then to Iran – were in effect “hostages” taken to try to persuade Iran to reduce its support for anti-U.S. violence in Iraq.
The second official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity because his account contradicted previous U.S. government statements, said the three were held as “potential leverage” against Iran, which provided financial and weapons support to anti-U.S. Iraqis after the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The U.S. Department of State says the Iranians were released in accordance with the status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq.

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