The woman whose death has come to symbolize Iranian resistance to the government’s official election results did not die the way the opposition claims, government-backed Press TV said Sunday.
Two people told Press TV there were no security forces in the area when Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, was killed on June 20. Neda’s death was captured on amateur video — most likely by a cell phone — and posted online. Within hours, she had become the iconic victim of the Iranian government crackdown. Eyewitnesses say Neda was shot by pro-government Basij militiamen perched on a rooftop. But Press TV said the type of bullet that killed her is not used by Iranian security forces. A man who told the state-funded network he had helped take her to a hospital said, “There were no security forces or any member of the Basij” government-backed paramilitary present when she was killed. Press TV did not name the man, who spoke Farsi and was subtitled in English on the broadcast. CNN has not identified him and cannot confirm his account. Watch more about Neda’s death » “I didn’t see who shot who,” he said. “The whole scene looked suspicious to me.” A second man, whom Press TV identified as Neda’s music teacher who was with her when she died, told the station there was “no security forces in this street” when she was shot. Press TV did not name the man, who had a gray mustache and ponytail. He spoke Farsi and was subtitled in English as he walked and pointed at what Press TV said was the scene of the shooting. She was with a family friend who is a music teacher when she was killed. He appears to be the man who spoke to the Iranian broadcaster.
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“There was no sign of a protest,” he said. “We crossed the street to the other side to get a cab… When we reached this spot, a gunshot was heard. There was no shooting here… There were no security forces in this street. There were around 20, 30 people in this street. One shot was heard and that bullet hit Neda.” “The bullet was apparently fired from a small caliber pistol that’s not used by Iranian security forces,” the Press TV anchor said. Iran has strict gun-control laws that bar private citizens from carrying firearms. U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday he had seen the video of Neda’s death and called it “heartbreaking. “And I think anyone who sees it knows there’s something fundamentally unjust about it,” he said. The shaky video of her death shows her walking with a man, a teacher of music and philosophy, near an anti-government demonstration. After being stuck in traffic for more than an hour inside a Peugeot 206 — a subcompact with a poorly working air conditioner — Neda and the friend decided to get out of the car for some fresh air, a friend of Neda’s told CNN after her death. The two were near where protesters were chanting in opposition to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose calls for an end to anti-government demonstrations have sparked defiance across the nation. Neda, wearing a baseball cap over a black scarf, a black shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes, does not appear to be chanting and seems to be observing the demonstration. Suddenly, Neda is on the ground — felled by a single gunshot wound to the chest. Several men kneel at her side and place pressure on her chest in an attempt to stop the bleeding. “She has been shot! Someone, come and take her!” shouts one man. By now, Neda’s eyes have rolled to her right; her body is limp. Blood streams from her mouth, then from her nose. For a second, her face is hidden from view as the camera goes behind one of the men. When Neda’s face comes back into view, it is covered with blood. Iran’s ambassador to Mexico — one of few Iranian officials who has spoken to CNN since the disputed June 12 presidential election — suggested American intelligence services could be responsible for her death. “This death of Neda is very suspicious,” Ambassador Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri said. “My question is, how is it that this Miss Neda is shot from behind, got shot in front of several cameras, and is shot in an area where no significant demonstration was behind held
“Well, if the CIA wants to kill some people and attribute that to the government elements, then choosing women is an appropriate choice, because the death of a woman draws more sympathy,” Ghadiri said. CIA spokesman George Little responded, “Any suggestion that the CIA was responsible for the death of this young woman is wrong, absurd and offensive.”