Payame Azadi

News of Iran

16 May 2000







Relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and staunchly secularist Republic of Turkey entered a new zone of turbulence as Turkish press accused Tehran of "direct participation" in the assassination, seven years ago, of Mr. Ugur Mumcu, one of the Turkey's most prominent secularist journalist and writer.

As the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry maintains a cautious stance vis-à-vis Tehran over the allegations of Iranian involvement in the Mumcu's brutal murder and many other cases, Turkish authorities are waiting for Iran's response to the claims, the English-language Turkish Daily News (TDN) said Friday.

Despite a news blackout imposed by the State Security Court, the Turkish press has published the names of the main suspects and their Iranian contacts, as well as details on how the murder was carried out.

The investigation, stalled for a long time, apparently gathered speed after clues were found among coded documents seized during nation wide raids on Turkish Hizbollah centres earlier this year. Testimonies given by some of the Islamic radicals arrested after dozens of bodies of people murdered by the Hizbullah organisation were found in several locations around the country, provided new leads.

According to the Turkish press quoted by "Turkey Update", Yusuf Karakuþ and Abdülhamit Çelik, the two main suspects were in Ankara shortly before the bomb exploded on 24th January 1973. They are alleged to have been watching the area in order to distract police attention while two Iranian experts were placing the bomb in Mumcu's car.

Indeed, several of the men recently arrested, most of them former ultra-nationalists turned Islamists, were known to the police. Yusuf Karakuþ served 12 years in jail for the murder of two trade unionists in 1977. He was sentenced again in 1997 for his involvement in the kidnapping of a dissident Hizbullah leader, Fidan Güngör.

More surprising still is the fact that Abdülhamit Çelik, who was apprehended in 1996 in connection with the murder of Iranian opponents, had then confessed to being an Iranian agent. He even named as his contact the same Iranian official, Mohsen Kargar Azad, whose identity has been revealed in recent days. Despite the extensive details he provided in his testimony, Çelik was then acquitted for "lack of evidence".

Mehmet Ali Tekin, former editor in chief of the Islamist newspaper Selam, is alleged to have brought the men to Tehran for training. One of the Iranian agents said to be involved, Kargar Azad, worked at the Consulate in Istanbul at the time, and the explosive was brought into Turkey through the diplomatic bag.

Turkish daily "Star" also alleged that an Iranian journalist working at the Iranian official news agency IRNA's office in Ankara also took part in the assassination.

From the first days after Mumcu's assassination, fingers had been pointed at Iran, but no proof had been found.

In a statement, IRNA denied the charges, saying it's journalists always worked professionally and in accordance of the laws of the countries were they work.

Rejecting the allegations as "baseless" and, as usual, attributing them to "plots by Zionist circles" to undermine Tehran-Ankara "brotherly co-operation", the Iranian Foreign Ministry officially called on the Turkish authorities to stop the anti-Iranian campaign at a time that Turkey is looking to Iran's support for endorsing Mr.Yasar Yakis as the next Secretary General of the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), currently under Iranian presidency.

As the Turkish side would remind that the Turkish press was free and doing its job, the Iranian press has asked the authorities not to back Yakis "since such an election would mean that the office of secretary-general would pass to Israel".

Although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly stressed that it has no concrete evidence of Iranian involvement, diplomatic sources say Iran's attitude will be very important regarding whether to pursue relations or not.

"In the event of credible evidence that Iran has been involved in many murder cases, the killing of journalist Ugur Mumcu in particular, diplomatic sources say it would be totally up to Iran whether to forget the past or maintain the same antagonist policy towards Turkey", the Turkey Update observed.

"If Iran comes out and tells us that these incidents happened 10 years ago and that they no longer pursue such a policy, then we would evaluate this as a bona fide gesture", a Turkish diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Security sources said if Iran keeps supporting (Islamist) terrorist organisations in Turkey, then the same policy applied to Syria might be valid for Iran as well.

Turkey obtained the deportation of Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, the leader of the outlawed (Turkish) Kordistan Workers Party (PKK) from Syria in 1998 after it openly menaced Damascus of military action. Mr. Ocalan was latter kidnapped in Nairobi by Turkish Special commandos and is now in jail in a Turkish remote prison-island.

Since his return from Tehran to Ankara two weeks ago, the Iranian ambassador to Turkey Mr. Mohammed Hossein Lavasani has delivered several messages to the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry including one from the Iranian President Hojjatoleslam Mohammed Khatami to the president-elect, Ahmet Necdet Sezer to wish him success in his new post.

The second, the Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem that while Iran is interested "genuinely" to pursue co-operation between the two countries, including on security issues, it also expects that all bilateral issues be discussed within the framework of joint committees.

Relations between Iranian theocratic regime with the neighbouring Turkey have never been easy ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution of 1979. As Ankara repeatedly accuses Tehran of supporting Turkish Islamist groups and terrorist organisations working for the creation of an Islamic Republic similar to the one in place in Tehran in the one hand and backing and sheltering Turkish separatists of the PKK on the other, Iran opposes Turkey's alliance with the United States but particularly the security and military pact Ankara has signed with Tel-Aviv.


Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam, Iran's -- and probably one of the world's -- longest political prisoner was freed temporarily from jail Tuesday for urgent medical check up, his family and his lawyer, Mr. Mohammed Ali Safari confirmed.

Jailed for the first time in 1980 on his return from Sweden where he was serving as ambassador, on charges of spying for the United States, Mr. Amir Entezam was Deputy Premier and the government's official Spokesman under Mr. Mehdi Bazargan, Islamic Iran's first Prime Minister.

Kept in solitary cell and often tortured, sometimes chained to his bed for months, Mr. Amir Entezam never submitted to pressures brought against him, cried his innocence, calling for a fair and open trial instead.

He was eventually taken out of prison in 1996 to be placed under house arrest and latter on allowed to travel abroad to receive an award from the Vienna-based Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Human Rights, a nicety he refused fearing the authorities would not prevent his return to Iran.

However, he was returned to prison in February 1999, this time on charges of "insult and defamation", after he protested to President Khatami for the "deep regrets" he presented over the assassination of Mr. Assadollah Lajevardi, a former Director of Prisons Organisations known by the people as the "Butcher of Evin" because of his role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in that notorious jail.

The Baghdad-based, Iraqi supported, financed and armed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation claimed responsibility for the killing of Mr. Lajevardi in his women underwear shop in Tehran Bazaar.

In interviews with Iranian and foreign media, Mr. Amir Entezam, who knew Mr. Lajevardi closely for having being suffered his tortures, described in graphic details several out of 171 methods of tortures Mr. Lajevardi had invented.

Suffering from different kind of diseases like chronic authorises, digestive system complications and ear problem caused because prolonged period of tortures, Mr. Amir Enteza says he would not leave prison unless the authorities bring him to an open trial with the presence of Iranian and foreign journalists and observers.

He has never had any trial and never officially charged.


For the first time in seventeen months that has elapsed since the savage murder of five prominent Iranian political and intellectual dissidents in November 1998, it was revealed that members of the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) and the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) might have also been involved in the assassination known as "chain murders".




Both forces are under the direct control of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The dramatic revelation was made Sunday during the fourth session of the trial of Mr. Emameddin Baqi in the conservatives-controlled press court presided over by Judge Sa'id Mortazavi, a staunch anti-reformist prosecutor. Under Iranian Islamic-based laws, the courts president, judge and prosecutor is one single man.

Alongside Mr. Akbar Ganji, who is now in jail and Mohammed Quchani, Mr. Baqi is one of the well-known investigative journalists and writers who revealed the direct involvement of Information (Intelligence) Ministry's agents not only in the chain murders but also the assassination of more than 80 dissident politicians and intellectuals activists under the presidency of Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his notorious Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian.

Answering charges brought against him by the LEF and the Guards, Mr. Baqi pointed out that he never accused these "entities" to have participated directly in the chain murders but believes that "rogue formations outside these forces but connected to them via elements within them" are engaged in the assassination of opponents.

To sustain his declaration, Mr. Baqi revealed that he got his information from a LEF colonel who was present during the brutal assassination of Mr. Dariush Foruhar, the leader of the nationalist and secularist Iranian People's Party (IPP) and his wife, Parvaneh Eskandari, both stabbed to death 12 and 21 times respectively with a long dagger.

A member of the editorial board of the now banned "Fath" daily, Mr. Baqi is accused of having wrote that clues concerning the failed attempt on the life of Mr. Sa'id Hajjarian and the chain murders are to be found at the LEF, the Revolutionary Guards and the Voice and Visage (the State-run Radio and Television that is also under the direct control of Mr. Khameneh'i). "In other words, he (Mr. Baqi) has openly accused the honourable Revolutionary Guards of the sacred Islamic Republic of having participated at the killings of Mr. Foruhar and his wife as well as the attempt on the life of Mr. Hajjarian", attorney for the Guards charged.

Publisher of the outspoken banned reformist daily "Sobhe Emrouz" (This Morning) and a close friend and adviser to President Mohammad Khatami, Mr. Hajjarian, 47, was shot at very close range by a professional gunman on the morning of 12th March as he was entering his office at the Tehran City Council.

According to investigations carried by Mr. Baqi and other colleagues, the gunman, 21 years old Sa'id Asgar, a student at the Free Islamic University, was working for the Intelligence Department of the Rev. Guard. He escaped the scene on the back of a waiting-by powerful motorcycle of the type that in Iran are only used by the LEF, agents of the Intelligence Ministry and the Pasdaran, hence the eight men strong murder team's connection with this conservatives-controlled armed force.

When pressed by a visibly angry and annoyed Judge Mortazavi to reveal the identity of his source, Mr. Baqi said he could not do so for the very simple reason that the Colonel lives in hiding after he was "sprayed with bullets" by the killers of the Foruhars after he protested to the savage assassination.



"If you promise to guaranty his safety, I would be glad to bring him to the court as witness", Mr. Baqi said, reminding the packed audience that public statements by high ranking officers like Rev. Guard Brigadier-General Mohammed Reza Naqdi, the Commander of the LEF Intelligence Units to "personally kill offenders of Islam obviously prompts young zealots to commit acts of blind assassinations", referring to the authorities claims that the suspects behind the chain murders as well as the failed assassination of Mr. Hajjarian had acted on their own, without any connection to the Intelligence Ministry, the LEF or the Pasdaran.

Obviously not satisfied, Mr. Mortazavi accused the defendant of making "contradictory statements", insisting that he must reveal the identity of the LEF Colonel who has told him that he was present at the scene during the assassination operation of Mr. Foruhar and his wife.

In his next audiences, Mr. Baqi must answer charges brought against him by a former Head of Intelligence Department of Qom Province, the Intelligence Ministry, the Radio and Television and former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian.