Iran confirms US woman 'spy' arrested

An Iranian security official confirmed on Saturday that an American woman said by media earlier this week to have been arrested for spying when she tried to enter the country is in custody.

Ahmad Garavand, deputy border police chief told reporters that his forces had arrested a US woman "spy" at the town of Jolfa on the border with Azerbaijan, Fars news agency reported.

He identified the woman as Hal Talayan, 34.

"This American woman spy has been arrested at Jolfa" in northwestern Iran, Garavand was quoted as saying.

"According to the border control intelligence bureau this person was arrested on January 5 while she was filming under cover as a tourist, and she was on a mission from the US spy agency," he said.

On Thursday, Fars news agency reported that Talayan had been arrested last week on the border with Armenia.

Later, however, Iran's Al-Alam television cited a security source as saying a US woman had been refused entry at a border crossing with Armenia a week ago over a visa problem.

"She approached the border guards, but as she did not have a visa, she was not authorised to enter Iran. She was sent back to Armenia," the television station said.

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