Iran summoned the Swiss diplomat who represents US affairs to its Foreign Ministry to protest the detentions of eight Iranian delegates in Baghdad. The Iranians who were arrested Tuesday worked for Iran’s Energy Ministry and were in Baghdad at the invitation of Iraqi officials to sign an energy supply contract, said Yassin Majid, an aide to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The delegates were released Wednesday, he said.
Video footage of the Tuesday arrests showed US soldiers escorting 10 people, blindfolded and some with their hands bound in front of them, from a Baghdad hotel into military vehicles.
A senior US official familiar with the incident told CNN the delegates should not have been detained in such a fashion. It was a mistake ordered by a low-level commander, the official said.
The US military has said the delegates’ Iraqi security escorts were carrying pistols and a rifle but had no weapons permits.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini called the detentions an “interventionist act,”. He further said that Iraqi officials and the Iranian Embassy secured their release so they can continue their work — discussing the construction of a power plant in Iraq.
The Swiss diplomat was called and “Iran presented its strong protest to US behavior which is contradictory to the international laws and regulations and asked for explanations,” Hosseini said.
Because the United States has no diplomatic relations with Tehran, the Swiss charge d’affaires represents US interests in the Islamic republic.