Iran today demanded the return of an Air Force lieutenant colonel and his wife who commandeered a cargo plane to eastern Turkey and asked for temporary political asylum, the semiofficial Anatolia news agency said.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry had no immediate response to the Iranian request. Turkey's ruling generals met late into the night to consider the case, hoping for a solution that would not alienate Iran but also not endanger the life of the officer, identified as Cevat Hussein, and his wife. They were quoted as saying they faced certain execution if returned to Iran.
The couple commandeered the cargo plane yesterday during a routine internal flight and forced the pilot and crew of 10 to fly to Van, a largely Kurdish-populated city 55 miles west of the Iranian border.
Today, Turkish officials sent the plane and the crew back to Iran.
In Tehran, meanwhile, Iran's former deputy prime minister and government spokesman, Abbas Amir Entezam, went on trial on a charge of conspiring against the Islamic revolution in collusion with the Central Intelligence Agency, the official Pars News Agency reported.
In the opening court session at Tegran's Evin Prison, former prime minister Mehdi Bazargan defended the actions of his onetime subordinate. Bazargan, a moderate who headed the first government after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's revolution toppled the Iranian monarchy in February 1979, called the charges against Entezam "baseless allegations."
Khomeini, who is trying to quiet the political warfare between President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr and his fundamentalist foes, stepped into the feud yesterday with a ban on virtually all political speeches until the war with Iraq is over.
Both sides today pledged to abide by the ban, which, although it is expected to silence the feuding, is not expected to end it.