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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Iranian State Reporter Arrested for Arms Trafficking

Italy frees Iranians 'jailed over arms trafficking'

Italian anti-terrorist prosecutor Armando Spataro (right) views a selection of the weapons that were seized in March 2010. Italy has freed two Iranians who were arrested on suspicion of trafficking arms to the Islamic republic, according to Tehran's ambassador to Rome.

AFP - Italy has freed two Iranian men jailed since March on suspicion of trafficking arms to the Islamic republic but is keeping them under house arrest, Tehran's ambassador to Rome said on Friday.

Ali Damirchi-Lou and state television reporter Hamid Masoumi-Nejad were released from jail on Thursday and "placed under house arrest," Ambassador Mohammad Ali Hosseini told Fars news agency.

The Rest @ France24

Masoumi-Nejad's release was announced Thursday on state television by Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh, who is charge of expatriate affairs, but there had been no immediate word on Damirchi-Lou's fate.

Masoumi-Nejad was freed "after efforts by the expatriate Iranian's council, the presidential office and the foreign ministry," Malekzadeh said.

Iran's ambassador to Italy also said that a Milan deputy prosecutor told him that "Masoumi-Nejad will be able to resume his reporting job although he is under house arrest." He did not elaborate.
The Italian news agency Ansa on Thursday confirmed that Masoumi-Nejad had been released and placed under house arrest, adding however he would be allowed to go to work.

Masoumi-Nejad -- who worked as a reporter for state television in Rome -- was arrested along with Damirchi-Lou and five Italian businessmen in Turin in March on suspicion of trafficking arms to Iran in violation of UN sanctions.

Tehran insists that the Iranian men are innocent and has repeatedly called for their release.
"We will keep our efforts until we secure their innocence verdict and complete freedom," ambassador Hosseini told Fars news agency.

Italian anti-terrorist prosecutor Armando Spataro said in March that the pair worked for Iran's secret services and that two other Iranians, believed to be in the Islamic republic, were sought in the same operation.

Italian police said the businessmen, receiving orders from Tehran, bought weapons in Europe, mainly from Germany.

They allegedly transported the arms through third countries such as Britain, Switzerland and Romania before shipping them to Iran using other companies as cover.

Some shipments passed via the Gulf state of Dubai, according to Italian police.

The scheme fell apart following a simple check by a Romanian customs officials, who confiscated 200 gun sights. Another 100 were seized in London, the police said.

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