Muhammad Reza Naserzadeh, a staff member of the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul involved in the assassination plot, forged documents for Esfanjani to help him escape to Iran following the assassination
Muhammad Reza Naserzadeh, 43, is accused of forging travel documents for Ali Esfanjani, the alleged mastermind of the killing, to smuggle him to Iran.
Last year two senior Turkish officials told Reuters his killing was instigated by intelligence officials at Iran’s Consulate in Istanbul. At the time, one of the Turkish officials identified the two suspects by initials – one set of which matched Naserzadeh’s. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh denied that any consulate staff member was involved in Vardanjani’s killing and said Iran was in talks with Turkish officials to shed light on the issue, according to the foreign ministry’s website.
Naserzadeh’s name came up when Siyavash Abazari Shalamzari, a suspect who helped Esfanjani flee into Iran following the murder, provided testimony for investigators. A court issued an arrest warrant for Naserzadeh, who was arrested earlier this week. The diplomat, who was working at the civic registry department of the consulate, claimed in his testimony that he was not in Turkey at the time of the murder and was not acquainted with Esfanjani or other suspects in the case. Shalamzari had claimed he saw Naserzadeh and another man he identified as Hacı Ağa pick up Esfanjani from Tehran airport after his plane landed. “Esfanjani had a new ID under the name of Abbas. I called Hacı to tell him that his name on the ID was wrong. He told me he would contact the consulate and asked me to proceed taking Esfanjani to Iran anyway,” he had said. He had claimed several Iranian intelligence officers also welcomed Esfanjani at the airport.
As part of the MOIS plot, Ali Esfanjani (Esfanjani) befriended Vardanjani, fed the MOIS information about him, and ultimately led him to the location where he was assassinated by Abdulvahap Kocak. Abulvahap Kocak used Zindashti’s residence as a safe house following the murder but was later captured by Turkish authorities.
Also Known As:
Arabic: محمد رضا ناصرزاده
NASER ZADEH, Mohammad Reza
NASIRZADE, Muhammed Reza
NASSER ZADEH, Mohammad Reza
01 Jan 1978
Reason for the color:
» Added to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list maintained by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on January 29, 2024 pursuant to Executive Order 13553 for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the MOIS;