Mon, Jan 10, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Iran claims to have arrested US spy on Azerbaijan border

AFP, TEHRAN

An Iranian security official confirmed on Saturday that an American woman said by media earlier this week to have been arrested for spying when trying to enter the country is in custody, as the US denied the reports.

Ahmad Garavand, deputy border police chief, told reporters his forces had arrested a US woman “spy” at the town of Jolfa on the border with Azerbaijan, the Fars and Mehr news agencies reported.

Fars gave her name as Hal Talayan, while the Mehr and ISNA news agencies named her as Hal Fayalan, 34.

“This American woman spy has been arrested at Jolfa” in northwestern Iran, Garavand was quoted as saying by Fars.

“This person was arrested on January 5 while she was filming under cover as a tourist and she was on a mission from the US spy agency,” he said.

On Thursday, Fars news agency reported that a woman named Hal Talayan had been arrested last week on the border with Armenia.

However, later Iran’s Arabic-language Al-Alam television cited a security source as saying a US woman had been refused entry at a border crossing with Armenia a week ago over a visa problem.

“She approached the border guards, but as she did not have a visa, she was not authorized to enter Iran. She was sent back to Armenia,” the television station said.

Armenia denied on Friday that the woman had ever been to the former Soviet republic.

The US Department of State also denied the reports, saying the woman was not in Iran.

“We have located the US citizen who appears to have been the subject of the reports and confirmed that the individual is safe. She is not in Iran,” US Department of State spokesman Mark Toner said.

In a separate report on Saturday, ISNA quoted Garavand as saying the detainee was “tasked by Americans to film the borders.”

She “was filming the border markets, Jolfa [police] station and the frontier,” Garavand said.

“She was arrested at Jolfa border and handed over to the intelligence bureau,” he said, adding that the woman was carrying “advanced filming equipment” and that the issue was now under further investigation.

Mehr also quoted Garavand as saying “the 34-year-old spy woman was tasked by Americans to film the Jolfa frontier by advanced equipment ... This American national was arrested on January 5 by Jolfa border guards at Nodouz bridge.”

Talayan would be the fourth American to be arrested by Iran on spying charges along with hikers Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.

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