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Rouhani Hit by Arrest of Official in Nuclear Negotiations Team | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani/ AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, file

London-Doubts gathered steam on Wednesday concerning the arrest of the financial official in the Iranian nuclear negotiation team, Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani, who is accused of spying for western states, at a time when the Iranian Foreign Ministry had denied for the second time in the past 72 hours “claims” about his detention.

Numerous websites close to the Revolutionary Guards had spoken about the details of the arrest and the identity of Esfahani, confirming he holds a second nationality of Great Britain.

Local reports also revealed that the detainee was an employee at the U.S. Treasury Committee, who had returned from the U.S. in 1979 to work at the Iranian Defense Ministry, and had become responsible of the Iranian money seized in the U.S.

According to several observers, the government considers the arrest of one of the country’s nuclear negotiators as a new attempt targeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who is preparing to run for a second presidential term next spring.

Nasim Online news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, said the arrestee is a dual citizen who, “other than being active in economy in both the private and governmental sectors, was the head of one of the key committees of the negotiation team and the representative of a financial organization on the team.”

Deputy Editor of Fars news Agency for Research Yasser Jebraili wrote on his Telegram account that the man, arrested on charges of espionage, was named Abdol Rasul Dori Esfahani, the banking head of the nuclear negotiation team who holds a second nationality of Great Britain.

Meanwhile, a deputy representing the city of Mashhad, Javad Karimi Ghodousi, said the arrest of Esfahani coincided with the trip of Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif to Turkey.

According to Ghodousi, Esfahani who is a financial negotiator at the nuclear team, had accompanied the Iranian delegation to Turkey recently, but that a warrant for his arrest kept him from setting foot on the Turkish soil.

“High-ranking officials had ordered that Esfahani does not leave the plane arriving in Turkey, and therefore, was directly returned to Tehran,” Ghodousi said.

The parliamentarian said the U.S. was paying Esfahani around 7,500 British pounds a month in exchange for information on the Iranian negotiating team.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi refuted the remarks offered about the detainee, describing them as “baseless and insubstantial claims.”

Ghasemi added that the “government asserts that some should not sacrifice national and security interests for the sake of partisan or personal goals.”

Iranian media outlets also reported that Esfahani was charged of “receiving money from U.S. and British institutes in return for important financial and economic information on Iran.”

The reports added Esfahani is considered one of the main suspects in the exorbitant salaries scandal in Iran.