Turkish intelligence has arrested 13 people suspected of abducting Iranian ethnic Arab activist Habib Chaab, who was lured by his ex-wife to Istanbul, news agencies reported yesterday.
Chaab, a leading activist from Ahvaz – a Sunni area in Iran, is based in Sweden. He was lured to Istanbul by his ex-wife, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, who had claimed she would settle a debt worth €100,000 ($121,379).
When he arrived in Istanbul, he entered a vehicle in which he thought his ex-wife was waiting, he was drugged, handcuffed and had his leg-chained before he was driven to the Turkish border city of Van and then smuggled to Iran in October.
Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper said that Chaab was wanted for defending the rights of the Arab minority in Iran and for being in charge of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA) in Sweden.
According to the Turkish paper, the 13 kidnappers were all members of drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindashti's group in Turkey. Zindashti is an Iranian citizen who fled to Turkey after he was sentenced to death in 2017.
After Chaab's current wife announced he was kidnapped in Istanbul, Turkish police launched an extensive investigation to find the kidnapper.
Simultaneous operations were launched in four cities. The Istanbul Prosecutor's Office also issued detention warrants for 23 suspects, 13 of whom have already been captured by security forces, Turkish media reported.
Chaab's detention comes one year after another Iranian dissident, Masoud Molavi Vardanjani, was shot dead on an Istanbul street, according to Reuters, which reported senior officials saying that the killing was instigated by intelligence officers at Iran's consulate in Turkey.