UPI: Iran is demanding the release of a convicted killer in exchange for a German sentenced to 18 months in prison because he entered Iranian waters while fishing. United Press International
BERLIN, Jan. 16 (UPI) — Iran is demanding the release of a convicted killer in exchange for a German sentenced to 18 months in prison because he entered Iranian waters while fishing.
According to a report in the latest issue of German news magazine Der Spiegel, Iran wants the release of Kazem Darabi, an Iranian convicted of taking part in the assassination of four high-raking Iranian-Kurdish opposition politicians in a Berlin restaurant in 1992.
The bait in this case is 53-year-old German Donald Klein, a family father and a fishing enthusiast, who in late 2005 year chartered a fishing trip with French skipper Stephane Lherbier based in Dubai.
The skipper led Klein near the island of Abu Mousa and accidentally crossed into Iranian waters, where both men were arrested by Iranian military.
Klein and Lherbier, who filmed Klein’s catch of two barracudas with a handheld video camera, were accused of deliberately crossing the border and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Germany has on repeated occasions tried to free Klein, with President Horst Koehler intervening but without success. Iranian diplomats have recently hinted that a release of Darabi, who is considered to be a prominent Iranian agent, would help Klein’s case.
It is unclear, however, whether Berlin will accept such a deal: Darabi is sentenced to life in prison, and Klein’s ordeal in Iran will be over in four months.
Observers say it would be careless to release Darabi and give up such a valuable prisoner for possible negotiations when it comes to a prisoner swap between Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Israel.