9:46am

Thu January 6, 2011
The Two-Way

Not Clear Whether Woman Accused Of Spying In Iran Is An American

Though Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency is reporting that authorities there "announced on Thursday that they have arrested a US woman a week ago on the charges of illegal entry and espionage in the Northwestern borders of the country," news outlets from elsewhere say it's not certain the woman is an American citizen.

ABC News writes that "a State Department official ... [said[ that the U.S. has asked the Swiss, who represent U.S. interests in Tehran since there are no American diplomats there, to check into these reports. The official said the U.S. has not yet been able to confirm that Talayan an American."

The Los Angeles Times says that while Iranian authorities are referring to the woman as American, she is possibly of "Armenian Christian descent."

Fars says that "Hall Talayan, 55, was detained by the customs officials in the border town of Nordouz" and that "security forces discovered 'espionage devices' such as a microphone implanted in her teeth."

As the BBC notes, "Iran arrested three American hikers in July 2009, accusing them of spying. One was later released on bail, but the other two remain in detention in Iran." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.