Turkish security sources say Iranian opposition figure Habib Chaab was kidnapped in Istanbul while he was meeting his ex-wife and smuggled into Iran by a drug ring that worked for Iranian intelligence.

This undated file photo shows members of Turkish security forces.
This undated file photo shows members of Turkish security forces. (AA)

Turkish security forces have detained 11 members of an Iranian drug ring that was responsible for kidnapping Iranian dissident Habib Chaab and smuggling him into Iran, security sources have said.

MIT, Turkey’s intelligence service, has deepened the investigation and found that the drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindasti’s ring handed over Chaab to Iranian security last month.

Iranian local media reported his "arrest" but gave no details about where or how he was arrested, blaming him for being the leader of a terrorist organisation. 

Chaab, who came to Istanbul to meet his ex-wife on October 9, had been living in exile in Sweden for the past 14 years. 

Security sources said that he met his ex-wife in a van at a petrol station where kidnappers drugged him and drove him to border city Van to be smuggled into Iran. 

Iranian intelligence and drug ring cooperation

The Iranian intelligence service has been watching Chaab, also known as Farajollah, who had been an advocate for the rights of the Arab minority in Iran. He was on their radar as the leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz in Sweden. 

Security analysts said Iranian drug lord Naji Sharifi Zindasti, who flew to Turkey after Iran sentenced him to death in 2007, might have made a deal for his pardon in exchange for delivering Chaab to Iranian officials.

Turkish police said that Zindasti is still at large. Zindasti reportedly also worked for Iranian intelligence.

The abduction of Chaab from Istanbul shared similarities with the Saudi plot against Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 where he went to submit paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiance. 

Turkish officials believe his body was dismembered and removed, while his remains have not been found.

Source: TRT World