Magazine Says Some American Hostages Taken to Iran
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Some of the eight American hostages held in Lebanon have been transferred to Iran, where a powerful faction wants them put on trial, the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reported today.
Ash-Shiraa was the publication that last November first disclosed secret U.S. arms sales to Iran.
The weekly said the leader of the faction, Sheik Hussein Ali Montazeri, ″demands that the American hostages in particular be brought to trial, especially since some of them have already been taken to Iran.″
In Washington, State Department spokesman Pete Martinez said today he had no information on the report.
The magazine attributed its latest information on the hostages to unidentified ″sources close to Montazeri’s office″ in Iran’s holy city of Qom. Montazeri is the designated successor of Iran’s supreme ruler, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In a related development, the semi-official daily newspaper Al-Ittihad of Abu Dhabi reported today that Terry Waite, a British envoy of the Anglican Church who has been missing in Lebanon since Jan. 20, had been taken to Iran on two occasions for talks with Iranian officials.
A spokesman for the church in London, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the church had no knowledge of Waite being taken to Iran and had no idea if the report was true.
Waite disappeared in Beirut while on a mission to negotiate with a pro- Iranian group holding hostages. No group ever claimed to have abducted him.
Al-Ittihad quoted unidentified British sources in its report. It did not clarify whether Waite was still in Iran or whether he had been taken back to Lebanon.
Al-Ittihad said Waite was flown to the Iranian capital of Tehran for talks with Parliament speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani while ″intensive contacts″ were under way between the Anglican Church and Iran for the release of British hostages held in Lebanon.
Al-Ittihad, quoting sources close to Waite’s family, said that following Waite’s meetings with Rafsanjani, the Iranian leader ″made positive steps″ toward releasing the Anglican envoy. But Rafsanjani suddenly ended his contacts before a final agreement could be reached, the paper added.
Ash-Shiraa magazine said the American hostages already in Iran ″are being subjected to thorough interrogations by the Iranian intelligence under the direct supervision of Minister of Security and Intelligence Sheik Mohammad Mohammadi Rey Shahri.″
Rey Shahri’s official title is Minister of Information.
The magazine indicated that Montazeri and his followers disagree with a five-man committee formed by Khomeini, which reportedly wants to release the hostages in exchange for U.S.-made weapons.
Ash-Shiraa reported last week that the special committee believed that ″a settlement to the hostages″ issue can be achieved only if the United States delivered to Iran weapons that had been purchased and paid for by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.″
The late pro-western Shah was toppled by Khomeini’s Islamic revolution in 1979.
The magazine said the committee was made up of Iranian President Ali Khamenei, Rafsanjani, Khomeini’s son Ahmad, Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohsen Reda, and Guards Minister Rafiq-Doust.
The magazine also reported last week that Iran is demanding that Washington release Iranian assets frozen in American banks.
The United States has already paid Iran $451 million of an estimated $3.6 billion in frozen assets, as ordered by a U.S.-Iranian tribunal in the Netherlands. The transfer of the funds was completed last month.
The Americans missing in Lebanon are Terry A. Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press; Thomas Sutherland, dean of agriculture at the American University of Beirut; Frank Herbert Reed, director of the Lebanese International School; Joseph James Cicippio, acting comptroller at the American University; Edward Austin Tracy, a writer; Jesse Jonathan Turner, visiting professor of math and computer science at Beirut University College; Alann Steen, communications instrutor at Beirut University College; and Robert Polhill, a lecturer in accounting at Beirut University College.
William Buckley, a U.S. Embassy political officer kidnapped in March 1984, was tortured and killed but his body has not been found.
Islamic Jihad, a Shiite Moslem group loyal to Iran, claims to have kidnapped Anderson, Sutherland and Buckley. The other kidnappings were claimed by various groups.
Sixteen other foreigners are held hostage in Lebanon.