UNITED NATIONS - A senior Iranian diplomat linked to Iran's reformists was detained in Tehran in March, possibly as part of a crackdown on dissidents ahead of the June presidential election, sources familiar with the case told Reuters on Tuesday.
Bagher Asadi, who has previously been a senior diplomat at Iran's UN mission in New York and was most recently a director at the secretariat of the so-called D8 group of developing nations in Istanbul, was arrested in mid-March in the Iranian capital according to the sources, who requested anonymity.
"We don't know why Ambassador Asadi was arrested," a source said, adding that it could be part of a pre-election crackdown.
It was not clear where Asadi was being held, the sources said. Reuters was unable to independently verify any aspect of the matter - who arrested the 61-year-old diplomat, on what grounds or even if he had been detained.
Iran's reformists have been sidelined since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative former mayor of Tehran, won the presidential election in 2005, replacing reformist Mohammad Khatami.
Iran's UN mission did not respond to a request for comment on the alleged arrest of Asadi, who in 2003 was appointed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to a panel of eminent persons on UN relations with civil society. Emails sent to Iran's Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry generated automated responses that said their mailboxes were full.