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Iranian odd couple claimed nuclear program insider knowledge

A document unveiled by Wikileaks shows that two mysterious individuals sought asylum through Barcelona’s US Consulate, claiming they were privy to information about Iranian terrorist activities.


The couple who contacted the US Consulate in Barcelona said they had information about Iran's nuclear capabilities.

In early May 2009, an Iranian couple telephoned the US Consulate in Barcelona requesting to go to the United States as refugees because they feared for their lives.

The husband and wife told diplomats that because they both worked as doctors, they had extensive knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program but the US officials informed Washington that they doubted their story. This episode is detailed in a May 19, 2009 classified cable written by Todd D. Robinson, the principal officer at the US Consulate, and released by Wikileaks.

“The couple, who claim to have information on Iran’s terrorist activities, say they’ve been in Spain since March and believe their lives are threatened by Iran,” wrote Robinson. After meeting with the couple on two occasions, the diplomats told them that they would have to go through a lengthy process through the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The wife was identified as N. J. N., and the husband as R. M., although he had an alias. The wife had travelled to the United States in 2007 on an international visitor program for an infectious diseases conference.  She specialised in microbiology at Shahid Beheshti University. But the husband had been denied entry the following year.

“The couple claimed they left Iran on February 22, 2009. They used false passports to get out of the country and traveled to Turkey and Morocco before ending up in Spain,” Robinson wrote, adding that they eventually ended up at the Barcelona chapter of the International Red Cross.

“Both claim they have knowledge of the inner workings of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and possibly bio-chemical programs, and are seeking resettlement in a country that can protect them from Iranian security services.”

After some checking, US diplomats found out that they both were denied visas after applying for them in 2008 in Dubai. The husband had used his alias then, claiming he was a doctor at Shahid Beheshti University but later admitting he was actually a pilot. The US official noted that the first time he appeared at the consulate he was wearing an airline uniform. “He also had several airline ID’s. He told [US diplomats] he left Iran after being pressured to fly arms to suspected terrorists for the Iranian government.”

US diplomats were suspicious and let Washington know. First, they determined that the woman who met with them and the pictures in the visa applications in 2007 and 2008 appear to be three different people. They also questioned why the couple waited two-and-half months to contact the consulate if they believed their lives were in danger.

It is unclear whether the couple were eventually granted refugee status or whether they were in fact who they claimed to be.

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Published: Oct 17 2011
Category: Politics, Featured, Spain News, Wikileaks
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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