Argentina to seek envoy extradition

An Argentine judge is to make a formal extradition request to Britain for a former Iranian diplomat accused in the July 1994 car bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.

    Soleimanpour is out on bail of $1.16 million

    Judge Juan Jose Galeano will on Monday hand over the request for former Iranian ambassador to Buenos Aires, Hade Soleimanpour, 47, to the Argentine Foreign Ministry, which will direct it to the British justice system.


    A High Court judge in London on Friday released Soleimanpour on $1.16 million bail, ruling that no clear evidence existed at present showing he was involved in the blast in the Argentine capital that left 85 dead.


    Argentina's Jewish community condemned the release, saying that London had "bowed its knees to terrorism."




    "The pressure from Iran through its foreign minister (Kamal Jarazil), and then the attacks on the British Embassy in Tehran, have given results," said community centre director Abraham Kaul.


    Soleimanpour's arrest and detention on 21 August sent relations between London and Tehran into a tailspin.


    Shots were fired on 3 September at the British embassy in Tehran just hours after Iran's ambassador to Britain was recalled "for consultations." Britain then authorised the voluntary departure of non-essential staff.


    "The pressure from Iran through its foreign minister [Kamal Jarazil], and then the attacks on the British Embassy in Tehran, have given results"

    Abraham Kaul
    Director, Jewish community centre, Buenos Aires

    On 9 September, embassy officials said three to four shots were fired from the street "at or near to" the embassy building in the early hours of the morning, without causing casualties or damage.


    Last Sunday, the Iranian foreign ministry said its ambassador to Britain, Morteza Sarmadi, would be returning to London, but warned that relations with Britain would only get worse unless Soleimanpour was released.


    The Foreign Office has stated that it cannot intervene in the ongoing judicial process set in motion by a warrant issued by the Argentine government under the Extradition Act of 1989.


    Soleimanpour, who currently lives and studies in Durham, northeast England, with his wife and two children, was not in Argentina at the time of the 1994 car bombing.


    But the Argentine government claims to have evidence that he provided support and cover for “terrorists” whose activities were allegedly centred at the Iranian embassy.


    The Jewish community in Argentina is the biggest in Latin America with 300,000 members.



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