Gen. David Petraeus, former U.S. commander in Iraq, reportedly is “absolutely certain” that British hostage Peter Moore was held secretly in Iran for part of his 31-month ordeal.
Petraeus’s claim is likely to intensify the bitter diplomatic relationship between London and Tehran.
Moore, an IT consultant, was set free Wednesday after the United States handed over an Iraqi insurgent suspected of planning the deaths of five American servicemen.
He was released by the League of the Righteous, or Asaib al-Haq (AAH) – an extremist Shia group allied to Iran – and his first night of freedom was spent at the British Embassy in Baghdad.
Petraeus accused Iran of involvement in the kidnapping within three weeks of the men being seized. In an interview with The Times of London in June 2007 he said he believed the kidnappers had been funded, trained and armed by Iran, but he fell short of accusing Tehran of complicity.
His new comments are the first time he has suggested the hostages were actually transferred onto Iranian soil.
Frank Gardner, the BBC’s security correspondent, said that at a conference in Bahrain on Dec. 13 he had asked Petraeus whether Moore was moved to Iran.
Gardner told Radio 4’s "Today" program on Thursday: “He didn’t hesitate. He said ‘I’m absolutely certain. I’m 90 per cent certain.’
There were also unconfirmed reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was involved in the kidnap.