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Sources: Iranian former defense minister in Israeli jail

May 8, 2011 1:23 P.M. (Updated: May 9, 2011 12:16 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Former Iranian deputy defense minister Ali Riza Asghari has been detained in Israel since his abduction by the Mossad in 2006, sources told Ma'an.

The sources said Israeli authorities had imposed a gag order on the country's media forbidding them from reporting details of the case.

Iranian officials and Asghari's family have accused Israel's Mossad of abducting the former cabinet minister, who disappeared during a visit to Turkey in December 2006.

Shortly after Asghari's disappearance, a senior US official told The Washington Post that the Iranian had defected and was providing Western intelligence services with information on links between Hezbollah and Iran.

In March 2009, a former German Defense Ministry official also said Asghari had defected, and that he was providing information on Iran's nuclear program.

Iranian news sites reported in November 2009 that Asghari was being held in an Israeli prison. At the time, Israel's Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Journalist Richard Silverstein reported in December 2010 that Asghari was found dead in his cell in Israel's Ayalon prison.

Silverstein cited reports by the Israeli news site Ynet and the Israeli daily Haaretz that a security prisoner had committed suicide while in solitary confinement in Ayalon prison. Ynet cited a gag order in its report, and the news was later removed from the site.

A source close to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak revealed that the deceased prisoner was Asghari, Silverstein said.

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