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Former Deputy Defense Minister Dies in Israeli Jail

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

28 Dec 2010 17:3811 Comments
Ynet-prisoner-x-suicide.jpg[ blog watch ] As previously reported, Richard Silverstein, who blogs about the Middle East, was the first to report that Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, who was Deputy Defense Minister in the Khatami administration, was being held in solitary confinement at the Ayalon prison in Israel. According to his family in Iran, General Asgari disappeared on December 11, 2006, in Istanbul, Turkey. Other reports suggest he disappeared in February 2007.

Silverstein reported today that General Asgari was found dead in his cell, citing a source within the inner circle of Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister. In addition, he reports that Ynetnews.com, a website covering Israel, also said that a prisoner has committed suicide. The story, however, has been pulled down under a gag order. Silverstein had downloaded the page from Ynet before it had been removed.

Haaretz, the relatively liberal newspaper, has also reported on the incident, but in a vague and indirect manner, and provided clues as to what may have happened. The article is in Hebrew, but Silverstein provides a translation of the important passages. Writing about those who die in Israel's prisons, Haaretz states that such deaths are investigated to see whether a "government agency" may have had a role in the death. It then writes:

Did such an agency have an interest in silencing the detainee? And if so, was the death declared a "suicide" really a murder? In the case of the death of a former prisoner under special treatment [held by the security services], why was it not within the power of the Prison Service to prevent the suicide or some other form of violent death?

Silverstein also states that his source for the original report on General Asgari's detention in Israel has confirmed that it is the General and not another prisoner who died in his cell.

If the report is accurate -- Silverstein's reports usually are -- the question is, Did General Asgari really commit suicide, or was he murdered to cover up the entire story, hoping that it would fade from memory? It is too early to tell.

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Much more confirmation is needed than what is provided in this report. Much more!

Amin / December 28, 2010 6:33 PM

Although Iranians in general are well known for beleiving in "Conspiracy theories" yet a person can't help wonder whether there is a connection between the execution of an Israeili spy in Tehran and the death of an Iranian General in an Israeili prison cell.

Siamak Zand / December 28, 2010 7:37 PM

Dr. Sahimi,
Can you provide a brief background on General Asgari? Why would Israel detain him, what story? Thank you.

Niloofar / December 28, 2010 7:38 PM


See the last report. Read also his profile in Wikipedia.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 28, 2010 8:29 PM


Pirouz / December 29, 2010 1:13 AM

Muhammad, I cannot reveal my sources, but I know for a fact that this story is bunk, pure misinformation. If you truly have high level contacts in Iran, I encourage you to do your homework and talk to them and find out more about Asgari's background (he was imprisoned and tortured by the regime and had incentives to defect).

Muhammad, I find that you have a visceral hatred for Israel which seems to border on anti-semitism. Your politics seems to be stuck in 1970s Iran. Please move one.

Reza / December 29, 2010 8:46 AM


I only reported on what Richard Silverstein reported. I did not say whether the report is accurate (see the beginning of the last paragraph), though he has been accurate most of the time, and I know him personally. The news is worthy of bringing to the attention of people, even if the probability of it being accurate is small. The editor-in-chief decides what to post, not me. Apparently, she also thinks so.

I know about Asgari's background. And I have talked to an old friend who used to be with the IRGC (last year his name came up, but he left the IRGC a few years ago). He does not know what happened to Asgari, but says that he finds it hard to believe that he defected, precisely because of what I described in the last report: He has not been heard of by his family (two wives, many children) at all, not even indirectly.

But, for my own interest and education and that of the readers and without revealing your sources, please tell me, what would be the goal of this misinformation? On Silverstein's blog some people have commented like you, but have given reasons that could be right. What do you think?

With due respect, your last comment is too wrong to respond to.

Muhammad Sahimi / December 29, 2010 9:02 PM

lots of questions?
who was this general?
How he ended up in Turkey?
How when he disappeared from there?
............RIP is not enough.
RIP.. attitude from readers are encouraging
violence and imjustice in this world as no
accountability and acceptance as [he can not
come back in this world] attitude unacceptable.

mirza / December 30, 2010 10:25 AM

And not a word about the 11 iranians just murdered by the Islamic Republic.Doc Sahimi is incrredible.

ShamsAdin / December 30, 2010 7:14 PM


And not a word about another 12 murdered and 16 more receiving death sentence. Not a word.

ShamsAdin / January 1, 2011 10:10 PM

Its a real shame that a credible outlet such as Tehran Bureau decides to print such inaccurate reports. Professor Sahimi lacks much credibility in the analysis world, and he has now lost even more. I admire him and will always read his articles if I want to hate Israel, as he does a great job and allocates much passion to it, but when it comes to analysis of Iran, he leaves much desired. I think he would make a good Iranian ambassador to Syria.

tls / January 2, 2011 2:09 AM