U.S. citizen said held in Iran is safe in Turkey: U.S.

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:55pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. citizen reported by Iranian news organizations to have been detained in Iran is safe and in Turkey, the U.S. State Department said on Monday but declined to name her or to say if she was ever in Iran.

The woman, identified as Hall Talayan by Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, has been the subject of conflicting reports over the last several days, including that she had been arrested on suspicion of spying.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said U.S. diplomats had contacted the woman in Turkey by telephone.

"She is safe and did not request further assistance from us," he told reporters. "As far as we're concerned, this case is closed."

Crowley said he did not have permission from the woman to disclose her name or comment further about her circumstances.

The United States, which severed diplomatic relations with Iran after its 1979 Islamic Revolution, and Iran are at loggerheads over Western suspicions that Tehran is pursuing nuclear arms under the cover of its civilian atomic program.

Iran has denied this, saying its nuclear program is solely to generate power. Despite the absence of diplomatic ties, Iran will meet representatives from the United States, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany in Istanbul this month in talks the West hopes may ultimately help end the dispute.

In recent years, Iran has detained a number of U.S. citizens and, in some cases, accused them of spying.

Three Americans -- two men and a woman -- were arrested in July 2009 near the Iran-Iraq border on suspicion of spying.

The woman, Sarah Shourd, was released on $500,000 bail in September and returned to the United States. She has said the three strayed across the border while hiking in Iraq.

Her two companions remain in jail awaiting trial, which was postponed in November because of her absence. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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