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Iran confirms arrest of American woman

The 34-year-old female is accused of taking photographs of guard posts along the Armenian border.

January 08, 2011|By Borzou Daragahi | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Reporting from Beirut — After days of contradictory reports citing unnamed officials, an Iranian security official Saturday publicly confirmed the arrest of a female American described as an alleged spy along its border with Armenia.

Deputy national border police Cmdr. Amir-Ahmad Geravand told reporters that a 34-year-old American woman named Hal Talaian was arrested near the border town of Jolfa along the Iran-Armenian border, according to Iran's state-controlled Al-Alam television and the semi-official Fars news agency.

She was allegedly arrested Wednesday while "filming advanced equipment" under the guise of being a tourist, Geravand was quoted as saying.

Arabic-language Al-Alam cited Geravand as saying the woman was allegedly taking photographs of guard posts along the border.

Talaian was mentioned as the suspected spy in previous reports, but was described as a 55-year-old with espionage equipment embedded in her teeth.

Fars cited Geravand as saying that Talaian was "on assignment from an American espionage organization."

Previous reports said Talaian had tried to cross the border near the town of Nordouz but was denied entry because she lacked a visa. Officials in the Armenian capital of Yerevan had denied reports that someone fitting such a description had entered Armenia or been turned away or arrested at the Iranian border.

daragahi@latimes.com

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