Panama has told Iran that the deposed shah was arrested there Jan. 22, and is free on bail and cannot leave the country, according to Tehran sources quoted by Reuter news agency yesterday.

In Panama City, Foreign Minister Carlos Ozores told Reuter that the shah "cannot leave Panamanian territory," but said he did not know if the shah was out on bail or even if he had been arrested.

The most recent exchange between Panamana and Tehran over the status of the shah, who has been living on an island off the Panamanian coast since Dec. 15, appeared to continue a pattern of Iranian assertions regarding his situation and Panamanian efforts to remain equivocal and neither confirm nor deny them.

Thus, on Jan. 22, when Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh said the shah had been arrested in Panama, Panamanian authorities said simply that the shah was under the care of security forces. Panama did not indicate whether that meant the shah was under arrest, or simply under guard for his own protection.

"The country is his jail, if we can call our country a jail," Ozores said of the shah yesterday. "It is definite he cannot leave Panamanian territory." The statement appeared to confirm at least part of the Iranian assertions, but as Panamanian authorities have pointed out in the past, one reason the shah "cannot" leave Panama is because other countries will not allow him entrance and he has nowhere else to go.