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Report: Iran frees American woman, saying she lied about being spy

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • An Iranian news agency says the woman has "psychological problems"
  • She reportedly was detained on Thursday in a border town
  • Iran says she entered from Armenia
  • Armenia has disputed that account, saying no one with that name entered

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has deported an American woman after an investigation showed she lied about being a U.S. spy and carrying espionage devices, Iranian media reported Sunday.

"This woman claimed to have spying devices in her teeth and surrendered herself to the Iranian border guards," an "informed source" told the semi-official Fars News Agency. "But further investigations revealed that she had psychological problems and her claims about being a spy and carrying spying devices were not true."

The woman, identified as Hall Talayan, was deported "after her psychological problems were proved," Fars reported.

Fars reported Talayan, 55, was detained by border officials after she approached guards claiming to be a spy.

Iranian officials told the news agency Thursday that Talayan entered Iran from Armenia without a visa. But on Friday, an Armenian security agency cast doubt on the reports. Artsvin Bagramian, head of Armenia's National Security Service press center, said a person with that name never entered Armenia and thus never left the country.

Citing an informed Iranian official, Fars said the woman asked authorities not to return her to Armenia because she feared for her life there. She was detained in Nordouz, a border town in northwestern Iran, Fars reported. Other media outlets also have reported the arrest.

But Al-Alam TV, an official Iranian news outlet, cited an informed source in Tehran who said the woman is in Armenia and didn't enter Iran. The outlet reported that the woman was denied entry into the country because she did not have an entry visa.

The U.S. State Department, noting the conflicting reports, is trying to find out what happened. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Thursday the United States has asked Switzerland "to please obtain as much information as possible as soon as possible to report to us whatever facts they can determine."

Iran and the United States do not have diplomatic relations, and Switzerland represents U.S. interests in Tehran.

In July 2009, three Americans were detained in Iran for spying after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan.

One of them, Sarah Shourd, was released from an Iranian prison last September on humanitarian grounds. Fellow hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer are still in prison.

Two German journalists, identified only as a reporter and photojournalist, were arrested in Iran in October and charged with espionage after they interviewed the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman who was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning.

CNN's Ivan Watson contributed to this report.