AFP: The Iranian embassy in Baghdad said on Tuesday that its second secretary, Jalal Sharafi, who had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital in February had been released. BAGHDAD, April 3, 2007 (AFP) – The Iranian embassy in Baghdad said on Tuesday that its second secretary, Jalal Sharafi, who had been kidnapped in the Iraqi capital in February had been released.
The announcement confirmed a report on state television in Tehran, which said Sharafi would return to Iran later Tuesday.
“Yes, he was released yesterday,” an official at the embassy told AFP but provided no further details.
Sharafi, 40, was abducted in Karrada, a predominantly Shiite southeastern district of Baghdad, on February 4 by gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms outside a branch of the Iranian state-owned Bank Melli.
His abduction came amid increasing tension between Iran and the United States, which arrested five Iranians on January 11 in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on suspicion of aiding and abetting the Iraqi insurgency.
But on Tuesday the US military expressed ignorance of Sharafi’s release.
“We were not holding him, so we do not know about his release,” said spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver.
Iran’s foreign ministry had claimed that the United States supervises Iraq’s defence ministry and was thus at least complicit in the abduction, which it blamed on a group linked to the Iraqi defence department.