Bonn loses influence
over Sarkuhi case

Bonn says has lost influence in Iran editor's case

02:48 p.m Apr 23, 1997 Eastern

BONN, April 23 (Reuter) - Germany said on Wednesday it could no longer intercede with Tehran on behalf of a detained Iranian journalist since it had downgraded relations with Iran over political killings on German soil.

Bonn had been in regular contact with Tehran concerning Faraj Sarkuhi, the editor of the monthly Adineh (Friday) who was arrested in Iran earlier this month for trying to leave illegally, and whose wife and children live in Germany.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Erdmann said a decision by Germany and the European Union to suspend a policy of ``critical dialogue'' meant that human rights issues, one of the main components of the dialogue, could no longer be addressed.

``The dialogue was instituted precisely to talk to Iran about critical questions including human rights,'' Erdmann said. ``If we suspend the dialogue, we can't expect Iran to discuss these things with us.''

He said Germany had been in touch with the Iranian Foreign Ministry's human rights representative about Sarkuhi. But if Bonn chose to end such contacts, Iran was likely to insist that Sarkuhi, as an Iranian citizen, was none of Bonn's concern.

Germany downgraded relations with Tehran and, along with most EU members, recalled its ambassador for consultations two weeks ago after a court accused Iran's leaders of ordering the 1992 murder of four Iranian dissidents in a Berlin restaurant.

Sarkuhi has alleged in a letter smuggled out of Iran that he was held for six weeks and tortured by the Iranian secret service in Tehran late last year to force him to confess to spying for Germany.

Iran insists he was in Germany at the time, but says he is now being held to await trial.

Sarkuhi's wife, Farideh Zebarjad, had feared he was being held as a bargaining chip to put pressure on German authorities not to link Tehran with the assassinations, for which an Iranian and four Lebanese have been convicted.

The weekly Sonntagsblatt said in an advance release that Zebarjad had had news of Sarkuhi last week via his brother, and that he was as well as could be expected.

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