2009-10-02 20:38:00
Embassy Ottawa
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable

DE RUEHOT #0770/01 2752038
O 022038Z OCT 09
S E C R E T OTTAWA 000770


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2019

REF: STATE 100765

Classified By: PolMinCouns Scott Bellard, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

2. (S) In a meeting with Deputy Pol/C on October 1, the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's Iran,
Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar Deputy Director Gallit Dobner shared
the following report from Ottawa's newly arrived Charge
d'Affaires in Tehran regarding dual and foreign nationals
detained by the Iranians, including three American citizens.

Begin Canadian diplomatic report:

Security: SECRET
I met yesterday with DG of the America,s Section Ali Akbar
Rezaei. We had met a few times when I passed through here
last fall, so it was an opportunity to renew old
acquaintances (it was our first meeting since my arrival at
post as he was away for my earlier meeting at the MFT).
As directed, the focus of the early part of our discussions
was the Bahari case and the various cases involving Americans
(I had been advised by the Swiss Ambassador just before my
meeting that she had been given consular access ) finally )
to the three US hikers, none of whom are dual nationals). I
noted our deep concern and the priority attached to the
Bahari case by the Government of Canada and reiterated our
appreciation for Rezaei,s interventions which had paved the
way for a couple of phone calls between Bahari and his wife.
I reaffirmed both our desire for his release and our
commitment to seeing that his legal rights were respected. I
stressed the humanitarian angle given the precarious state of
his wife's health and that of his unborn child. Rezaei,
having helped in facilitating the calls on the basis of the
documents we had provided, was well aware of the details of
the situation. I also noted our continuing concerns for the
American detainees ) the 3 hikers, Tajbakhsh, Taghavi and
the missing American Levinson (using the lines provided).
Rezaei reminded me of the Iranian position on Bahari and all
dual nationals. They were Iranians, full stop, in Tehran's
eyes and requests for the usual consular privileges did not
apply in these cases (the hikers were a different story and
consular access had been granted the day before he noted). I
advised that while we certainly respected Iranian
sovereignty, we would continue to agree to disagree on the

cases involving dual nationals. However, I noted, there was
a human rights dimension to these case that were quite
separate from the dual nationality issue. All of these
individuals had been so far denied their basic right to
counsel and no clear charges had been laid. From a human
rights perspective alone it was perfectly legitimate for us
and the international community to seek answers. Rezaei,
surprisingly, agreed that we had the right to pursue that
line of enquiry as it did not &interfere in our internal
affairs8 the way our assertions regarding consular rights
over "Iranian Nationals": did. He said he would try and make
enquiries with the judiciary on that basis.

As to why there had been such a delay in getting access to
lawyers, Rezaei said, without getting into specifics about
the individual cases, that in principle legal advice is only
provided after the completion of the investigation phase
which could be protracted (he made a half-hearted attempt to
equate this with western practices of holding suspects
without charge, but quickly abandoned that line, perhaps
realizing that access to legal counsel ) in virtually all
cases ) is provided pretty quickly). He gave no hint that
he had any knowledge of the commitment made by FM Mottaki to
his Turkish counterpart that Bahari would be released soon
nor did I really expect that he would even if he is in the
Qnor did I really expect that he would even if he is in the
loop on that (and I,m not sure that he necessarily would be).
In the Levinson case, he said the Iranians had done
everything they could to cooperate with the family and in
trying to find out information about where he might be.
Local police and government authorities had been approached
in all the areas where Levinson had reportedly visited before
his disappearance and had come up with no leads about what
happened to him. If the Americans had any, he said, Iran
would be more than willing to pursue them. Right now they
are at a dead end.
All in all the meeting was cordial, even friendly at times.
I had expected him to raise the human rights resolution, even
in passing, but he didn't even take the opening I gave him
when I mentioned the legitimacy of us pursuing the Bahari
complaint from the human rights angle. Whether they are
waiting for us to raise it formally with them or have decided
to work through our allies in trying to undermine support (eg
in coming meeting with NZ visitor where, as I noted
previously, the &Canadian resolution" is going to be raised)
is unclear. It could simply have been Iranian politeness in
not wanting to go down that road in this first official
meeting (in stark contrast to Canadian crassness, then, in
raising Bahari at this juncture). There was little doubt,
however, that the resolution was the elephant in the room.
One final point Rezaei raised related to the broader question

of the level of the bilateral relationship. Rezaei
reiterated the point he made with de Salaberry when my name
was first put forward for sic) TERAN Any delay in approving
me, he said, had nothing to do with me personally. They were
quite pleased with my selection, but would have preferred
that I would have been nominated as Ambassador. In Iran,s
view, I am here as the head of the Canadian Embassy as
relations have not been formally downgraded to the level of
Charge. They remain hopeful that when the time is right )
"the excuse is found" ) we can quickly return to an exchange
of Ambassadors (with the assumption on their part that I
would be elevated to that capacity ) he was silent on
Ghassemi however). I said that no decision had been taken
but that certainly the current context was difficult. Rezaei
said that he would be supportive of any meetings with senior
Iranians to discuss the issues we want to pursue. I will
soon put together lists to test him. My suggestion is they
might prove less than forthcoming, especially if they are
trying to make a point about relationship levels.
End Canadian diplomatic report.

Visit Canada,s North American partnership community at /