Iranian diplomat arrested in England

Monday, August 25, 2003

LONDON Britain is considering the extradition of a former Iranian ambassador wanted for the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people.

British authorities have arrested Hadi Soleimanpour, Iran's former ambassador to Buenos Aires, and have begun hearings over whether to extradite him to Argentina. Soleimanpour, 47, was one of eight Iranians ordered arrested by an Argentinian judge who issued the international warrants.

On Saturday, Teheran severed cultural relations with Argentina to protest the issuing of the warrant, Middle East Newsline reported.

Israel and the United States have long accused Iran of sponsoring the 1994 attack as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. Both countries said the operation was carried out by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, which used Iranian diplomatic passports.

Soleimanpour arrived in Britain in February 2002 on a student visa and was said to be studying in Durham University. British officials said the extradition process could take months.

Iran has denied any involvement in either the 1992 or 1994 attacks.

A British court ruled that Soleimanpur would remain in custody until until his next court appearance in London on Aug. 29. The court was told that Soleimanpur helped commission and plan the 1994 bombing.

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