Iran will not tolerate Germany 'interference' over dissident

TEHRAN, Feb 8, wire services --- Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said Saturday his country would not tolerate what he called Germany's "flagrant interference" in the case of an Iranian dissident writer imprisoned here.

"This subject is only the business of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Germany's reaction amounts to an interference in our internal affairs and we will not tolerate it," Velayati told Kayhan newspaper.

"We hope the German government will adopt a logical attitude in this regard based on diplomatic principles for the sake of preserving relations," he added. "Faraj Sarkuhi has been arrested for violating the law and will be tried according to the law."

Germany and several other Western countries have voiced concern over the fate of Sarkuhi, who was reported arrested on Monday along with his brother, Ismael, as they allegedly tried to leave the country.

The German foreign ministry called on Iranian authorities on Tuesday to "throw light on the matter."

The writer had been reported missing after he wrote a letter to his family published by Berlin's Tageszeitung newspaper last week, saying he had been held and mistreated for 47 days in November and December at an information ministry prison while he was supposedly in Germany.

Sarkuhi, the editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Adineh, first disappeared November 3 while planning to board a plane here for Germany.

His family said he never arrived but then he reappeared in the Iranian capital on December 20 and took part in a press conference, which he said later in his letter it was staged by the authorities. Sarkuhi was among 134 writers and journalists who signed a petition in October 1994 for freedom of expression in Iran.

Relations between Iran and its top trade partner Germany have soured since German prosecutors imlicated Iranian leaders in the 1992 murder of four Iranian Kurd opposition figures in a Berlin restaurant.

The German foreign ministry has not ruled out a link between the Sarkuhi affair and ongoing trial in Berlin of suspects in the restaurant murders.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Maleki has postponed a planned trip this week to Germany amid a war of words between Tehran and Bonn.

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