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Missing Iranian Jewish teens may be alive

NEW YORK, Sept. 5 (JTA) — As American Jews and various governments lobby Iran to release the Iran 10, a revelation has emerged: There may be more Jewish prisoners.

Seven years ago or so, 11 Iranian Jewish teen-agers were arrested, allegedly for trying to leave Iran illegally.

They were reportedly found in border areas, perhaps indicating they were on their way out, said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

After a time, nothing was heard about them again, and the families presumed they had been executed. However, Hoenlein, who is in steady contact with sources within Iran, said a recently released prisoner from a Tehran jail revealed that he had spotted several of the missing boys.

They would now be in their mid- to late-20s.

The disappearances were not raised with the Iranian authorities earlier, said Hoenlein, because Jewish activists were focused on freeing 10 Iranian Jews who have been imprisoned for more than 18 months on charges of spying for Israel.

Yet Hoenlein confirmed that he broached the subject last week during a face-to-face discussion with Mehdi Kharroubi, the speaker of Iran’s Parliament. Hoenlein met with Kharroubi at an event in New York hosted by the Iranian American Council.

Kharroubi told Hoenlein that he “was unaware of the case, but he was very receptive to helping.”

“He took down the information,” Hoenlein said, “and at the end of the evening, came up to me and said he would follow up on it.”

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