February 11, 2021
Turkish authorities have arrested a staff member of the Iranian consulate in Istanbul for his role in the killing of an Iranian dissident in 2019 in the city, a Turkish daily reported on Thursday.
Mohammad Reza Naserzadeh, 43, was arrested earlier this week, the Daily Sabah reported. He is accused of forging travel documents for Ali Esfanjani – the alleged mastermind of the killing of Masoud Molavi Vardanjani – to smuggle him to Iran.
Naserzadeh claimed in his testimony that he was not in Turkey at the time of the killing and was not acquainted with Esfanjani or other suspects in the case, according to the report.
Vardanjani was shot dead in November 2019 in Istanbul.
Last year, Turkish officials concluded that the Iranian consulate in Istanbul was behind the killing.
A Turkish police report into the killing published in March 2020 said Vardanjani had worked in cyber security at Iran’s defense ministry and later became a vocal critic of the Iranian regime.
A Twitter account attributed to Vardanjani included posts criticizing Iran’s Revolutionary Guards months before he was killed.