Iranian Says He Was Tortured in Iraq


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian diplomat showed off wounds on his feet
Wednesday, and said they were inflicted by drills during two months of
detention in Iraq. He said he was harshly interrogated by an American
official when he refused to cooperate.

The U.S. has denied any role in the capture of Jalal Sharafi, the second
secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad, who was seized by gunmen in
Baghdad on Feb. 4. Tehran has said he was taken by an Iraqi military unit
commanded by U.S. forces - an accusation repeated by several Iraqi Shiite

The comments by Sharafi came as Iran stepped up complaints over its
personnel detained in Iraq, hinting that it might boycott an international
conference on Iraq unless American forces release five Iranians detained in
a January raid.

Sharafi, speaking to reporters in his first appearance since his release
April 3, said he was taken by men who at first pretended to be militants but
later told him they were with Iraqi intelligence.

Sitting in a wheelchair and speaking in a weak voice, Sharafi showed
reporters nine partially healed holes in his ankle and foot he said were
caused by a drill. Shiite militiamen - some connected to Iraqi security
forces - have been known to torture captives with drills.

"They tied my feet and hands and lashed my soles hundreds of times with
cables and kicked and punched me," said Sharafi, who also showed traces of
slash marks on his back. "They performed mock executions while my eyes were
blindfolded and my hands and feet were bound." He said the drill torture
occurred early in his captivity, and beatings took place throughout.

Dr. Ali Sharifi, a psychiatrist, said Sharafi showed symptoms of sensory and
sleep deprivation.

Peter G. Stocker, an official from the International Committee of the Red
Cross who examined Sharafi on Wednesday, told The Associated Press his
wounds "happened during his detention." Stocker could not say who caused

Sharafi said he was questioned several times by an American who told him "he
was in charge of my case and was in direct contact with the American

"The English-speaking man threatened to kill me by bites of wild dogs," said
the 40-year-old diplomat, referring to the American. "The American began
with a soft attitude at first. But he turned harsh when he could not get any
cooperation from me."

Sharafi said his captors questioned him about the other five detained
Iranians and asked him what groups Iran supports. "They wanted me to confess
that Iran intervenes in Iraq's domestic affairs and was a threat to the
countries of the region," he said.

On Saturday, Iranian state TV quoted Sharafi as saying the CIA was involved
in his interrogation. He did not specify CIA involvement in his comments

U.S. Embassy officials in Baghdad did not immediately answer calls seeking
comment Wednesday. Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said Saturday
that "the United States had nothing to do with Mr. Sharafi's detention and
we welcome his return to Iran."

A U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of
the sensitivity of the issue, said the CIA denies any role in the capture or
release of Sharafi. The official dismissed any claims of torture, saying
"the CIA does not conduct or condone torture."

Johndroe accused Iran of making the claims to deflect attention from its
seizure of 15 British sailors in the Persian Gulf. The sailors were released
last week.

Tensions have risen between the U.S. and Iraq over Washington's accusations
that Tehran is providing deadly weapons and training to militants attacking
U.S. forces in Iraq, a claim Iran denies. President Bush has said the U.S.
military would aggressively pursue Iranian agents who stir up trouble in

In January, U.S. troops seized five Iranians in northern Iraq, saying they
were providing money and weapons to militants.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi suggested Iran may boycott a
conference on Iraq next month unless the five Iranians are freed. The
conference in Eygpt, which the United States is expected to attend along
with delegates from Britain, France, Russia, China and Arab nations, aims to
build regional coordination to help stem violence in Iraq.

"We have reminded Iraqi officials that until the time of the Iranian
diplomats' release, Iran's attendance in any conference on Iraq, should the
U.S. attend, would encounter problems and barriers," Araghchi was quoted as
saying by the hardline Kayhan newspaper.

On Wednesday, however, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the
conference is a priority for Iran. He told the state news agency that Tehran
would prefer that the meeting be held in Baghdad but that issue could be
worked out.