Missing Israeli navigator alive and held in prison near Tehran
Israeli navigator Ron Arad, missing since his plane came down over Lebanon in 1986, is alive and being detained in a prison near Tehran, three exiled Iranian officials revealed.
Top-selling Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot stressed however that it was unable to check the reports, which come at a sensitive time in negotiations for a prisoner exchange between Israel and the Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
The newspaper's sources were two intelligence officers and a diplomat who fled Iran in recent years.
"He was very thin, weighing about 60 kilograms (130 pounds). He was in a wheelchair. He had quite a thin beard. His face was wrinkled, he was staring into space and had a sad look," said one of them, who reportedly saw Arad three years ago.
"One source said that when Ron Arad was imprisoned in Tehran in 1998, he was hospitalized twice for heart trouble," the newspaper wrote Friday.
According to the Yediot, Arad tried to escape his captors while still in Lebanon, was transferred to Syria in 1994 and later to Iran.
"Before Ron Arad's transfer to Iran, it was decided to operate on his knees in order to paralyze the lower part of his legs, with the purpose of preventing him from having any possibility of attempting to escape," the paper said.
Arad's family has been leading a campaign to ensure the fate of the navigator, widely believed dead, is not separated from that of other Israelis involved in a possible prisoner swap.
According to Israeli public radio, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon held a special cabinet meeting Friday to define his government's position on the issue.
Health Minister Danny Naveh was expected to travel to Egypt early next week to meet Azzam Azzam, an Israeli serving a life sentence of hard labour there for spying and who could also be included in an exchange, the radio added.
In October 2000, Hezbollah captured three Israeli soldiers -- whom Israel believes dead -- in a disputed border area. They also seized businessman Elhanan Tannenbaum, a reserve colonel who the guerrilla group alleges was a spy.
The Israeli judiciary has authorised publication of the circumstances of Tannenbaum's capture, court sources said, but the radio said his family would appeal the ruling, arguing the information could affect his chances of being released.
Israel holds around 20 Lebanese detainees, including Shiite Muslim fundamentalist leaders Abdel Karim Obeid and Mustafa Dirani, who were captured to be used as a bargaining chip in a prisoner swap with Hezbollah. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1312&ncid=1312&e=1&u=/afp/20031010/wl_mideast_afp/israel_lebanon_hezbollah_iran_031010135556
Tehran "happy" with Ebadi's Nobel Peace Prize award
Fri Oct 10, 7:20 AM ET
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's reformist government said it was "happy" over the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Iranian rights activist Shirin Ebadi.
"We are happy that an Iranian Muslim woman was qualified to be noticed by the world community for her activities in bringing about peace," official government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh told AFP.
"We hope that we could use her expert views more in Iran," he added Friday.
For his part, Vice President Ali Abtahi said the award highlighted the active role of Iranian women in trying to shape how the Islamic republic is run.
"I am very happy that an Iranian and above all a woman has won the Nobel Peace Prize," he told AFP. "It is a sign of the very active presence of Iranian women on the social and political scene.
"The fact that a lawyer has won this prize gives us hope that the judicial system will change its methods," he added, referring to the conservative-controlled judiciary in Iran. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20031010/wl_mideast_afp/nobel_peace_iran_ebadi_031010112008