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Iran Envoy Denies Trying to Shoplift a $99 Raincoat

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Times Staff Writer

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations denied police reports Thursday that he tried to shoplift a $99.99 raincoat from a bargain department store in Manhattan two weeks ago, and he charged that the incident was an FBI “setup.”

Ambassador Said Rajai-Khorasani called “absurd” a police report that a store detective at Alexander’s, a popular East Side store, saw him clip the price tags from a tan Botany 500 raincoat and try to walk out the door with it May 7.

Rajai-Khorasani, who has frequently been shown on network television defending his government’s policies, also denied allegations in the police report that he had stolen suits from the men’s department on two other occasions.

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The envoy, the highest ranking official of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini regime left in the United States since the two countries severed relations in 1980, was detained for two hours in 1952998688without charge after an FBI agent called to the store confirmed his diplomatic status.

‘Case is Closed’

“The case is closed based on the fact that he has diplomatic immunity,” said New York City police spokesman James Coleman.

Alexander’s Vice President Edwin Dreher said Thursday that the store had no comment.

Rajai-Khorasani, 50, said he had tucked the coat’s price tags into the sleeves to check the length in a three-way mirror in the men’s department. He said he was returning the coat to a rack near the exit when a security guard stopped him.

“These are absolutely false allegations,” said the slight, bearded envoy.

Rajai-Khorasani told reporters that the FBI agent who interviewed him at the store tried to “pressure” him--"I suppose for purposes of blackmail, to collect information,” he said.

FBI Tactics Criticized

The FBI agent was using a “carrot and stick tactic” and offered to “talk about bilateral relations” between Iran and the United States, the diplomat said. “I was furious and knew then that this was a setup.”

FBI spokesman Bill Carter in Washington said the agency “can say categorically we did not set him up or force him to steal. . . . The person was picked up for shoplifting. We’re not going to dignify his allegations with further response.

“President Reagan has gone on record saying Iran exports terrorism, and when a representative of a terrorist state deals with police, it’s of concern to us,” Carter added.

Deborah Cavin, a press officer for the U.S. State Department in Washington, said department officials are “reviewing the situation and will take whatever actions are necessary.”

She added that a U.N. representative “may be expelled from the U.S.” for violating criminal laws.


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