German daily says it has Sarkuhi's letter

BONN, Germany, Jan 29, wire services -- A German newspaper said Wednesday it had obtained a smuggled letter in which an Iranian journalist, missing since he failed to arrive from Tehran in December, said he had been held by Iran's secret service.

The Tageszeitung, in a release ahead of publication on Thursday, said journalist Faraj Sarkuhi wrote that the secret service forced him to pretend he had flown to Germany when he was in fact in detention.

After human rights groups expressed concern that Sarkuhi, editor of the monthly Adineh (Friday), had failed to arrive on a flight to Germany, Tehran media said Iran Air records showed that he had in fact landed.

But the German Foreign Ministry said at the time it believed Sarkuhi was still in Iran and former Iranian president Abolhassan Banisadr said Sarkuhi had never left Iran and was being interrogated by the secret service.

The Tageszeitung said Sarkuhi wrote in his letter that the Iranian secret service tried to force him to work with them and another Iranian was sent to Germany with his passport to have it stamped as proof of his visit.

The Tageszeitung also said it had information that Sarkuhi's mother was told Monday that the secret service had also arrested his brother.

Sarkuhi's wife Farideh Zebarjad, who has received political asylum in Germany, said in December that her husband was one of a group of Iranian writers who were detained when Iranian security forces forced their way into the private apartment of the German cultural attache in Tehran.

She said she feared he was being held as a bargaining chip in the case of four Lebanese and an Iranian being tried in Berlin on suspicion of killing Iranian dissidents.

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