Iranian TV: Jewish American Detained for Illegal Entry

TEHRAN, Iran - Security forces have detained an American man for illegally entering Iran from Pakistan, state television reported Friday.

An Iranian police officer confirmed to The Associated Press the arrest of the unidentified American on Tuesday, saying his motives for crossing the border had not been determined.

The American was being interrogated, the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Iran has tightened security on its eastern border with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent infiltration by supporters of the Al-Qaida terror group and the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

State television said the man was a Jewish American. It said he was arrested in Sistan-Baluchestan, a southeastern province that borders Pakistan. The television gave no further details.

In Islamabad, Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy said it had no information about the American. An embassy official read out a comment by State Department spokesman Adam Ereli who said the United States had contacted Switzerland, which looks after U.S. interests in Iran.

"Our understanding is that the Swiss Embassy has inquired about this detention with the Iranian authorities, but we have not yet received confirmation of the identity of the individual and cannot verify at this time that he is an American citizen," Ereli said in Washington on Thursday.

American citizens are allowed to enter Iran provided they obtain a visa beforehand.

The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held its occupants as hostages for more than a year.

Though relations thawed somewhat in the late 1990s, they deteriorated in recent years after President George W. Bush accused Iran of being part of an "axis of evil." Since the overthow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein last year, U.S. officials and the Iraqi defense minister have accused Iran of interfering in Iraqi affairs. Iran has denied the charge.

Iran has no relations with Israel and has called for its destruction. Conservative politicians routinely attack anything associated with Israel or Jews as "Zionist."