TEHRAN, Iran - Iran is rallying the international community in a bid to clarify the whereabouts, and return, of three Iranian diplomats and a journalist abducted 38 years ago.
Iran says the diplomats and the journalist were kidnapped by Israeli mercenaries at a checkpoint in northern Lebanon in 1982. They were Ahmad Motevaselian, military attach for Iran's embassy in Beirut; Seyed Mohsen Mousavi, charg d'affaires at the embassy; Taghi Rastegar Moghadam, an embassy employee; and Kazem Akhavan, an IRNA photojournalist.
In a statement by Iran's foreign ministry on Friday the Iranian government said it believed the diplomats were handed over to the the Israeli army as the occupying force in Lebanon at the time, and are still being held in Israeli prisons today.
Iran said it held Israel responsible for the fate of its diplomats and the journalist.
"Unfortunately after a lapse of many years since the criminal and terrorist act was carried out, the international community and human rights organizations have not taken any serious action against this crime, and the Zionist regime, which continues to commit crimes and violate international law with the support of the U.S., avoids accepting responsibility in this respect," the statement said.
"Appreciating the Lebanese government's cooperation and efforts to determine the fate of the four diplomats, including a letter to the then UN Secretary-General in September 2008, Iran once again urges the Lebanese officials, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and other international bodies, to fulfill their inherent, legal and humanitarian duty to pursue the case and to make every effort to clarify the situation of the abducted diplomats."
Iran's letter to the then-UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon in 2008 was supported by a Lebanese government statement that the four diplomats were indeed abducted at the checkpoint in 1982.
"In this context, it reiterates its proposal to form a fact-finding committee by the International Committee of the Red Cross," the Iranian foreign ministry added.
The Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah has said in the past it has evidence the diplomats remain alive and are being held in captivity in Israel.
The Iranian ministry said it was hopeful the four diplomats would be released soon.