Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Ahmad Moradi Talebi


Age: 36
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: August 10, 1987
Location of Killing: Hotel Edelweiss, Geneva, Switzerland
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Information regarding the extrajudicial execution of Major Moradi Talebi was sent to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center electronically and via email, by one of his relatives (March 19, 2006). News of this extra judicial execution was also published in the following websites: Fars News Agency (March 12, 2016), Mehr News Agency (October 25, 2021), WarIsBoring: in two parts (August 29 and September 5, 2017), Skyhunter (December 5, 2012), and Sharq News (March 9, 2021). A small section of Mr. Moradi Talebi’s interview was published in YouTube.

Mr. Moradi Talebi was married and he had three children (one of his children was born after his death). He had studied in the United States and he was a major in the Iranian Air Force.Mr. Moradi Talebi’s wife was also an officer in the Air Force. One of Mr. Moradi Talebi’s coworkers said, “Ahmad Moradi was one of our old friends and he was a good pilot.” (Mehr News Agency)

According to information we have received, Mr. Moradi Talebi was in line with the Islamic revolution when it happened. After two years he decided that this revolution would not bring about democracy, and he became opposed to the Islamic Republic. He wanted to leave the armed forces, but regulations would not permit him to do this. Therefore, he decided to escape in order to go and live in America (Email from Mr. Moradi Talebi’s relative).

According to one of his coworkers, one time when Mr. Moradi Talebi and his wife were going to Varamin, they were stopped at a Committee Guards checkpoint. They were asked to open their suitcase and when they refused, he was beaten and assaulted by several agents of the Committee (Mehr News Agency). After this incident, in the spring of 1986, he asked for vacation time and went to Germany with his family. His family stayed in Germany and he returned to Iran.

In another report submitted to one of his superiors, this incident was related differently: “One time when he was going to Amlash with his family, he was pulled over at the constabulary because he had been drinking and was not normal. Since he was a pilot they did not punish him and they let him go. One week later, they caught him at the same place in the same condition. This time they punished him with a lashing.” (Fars News Agency)

According to available information, at 2 pm on September 2, 1986, Mr. Moradi Talebi and his copilot Hasan Najafi received orders to provide security for oil tankers carrying crude oil from Khark Island with an F14. He continued to patrol the skies after the first refueling, but after the airplane gained altitude he proceeded to fly towards Iraq.

That same afternoon, news was broadcast about an Islamic Republic Air Force F14 having been fired on and crashed near Nowmaniyeh in Iraq. That evening, the pilot (Mr. Moradi Talebi) and copilot/radar operator (Hasan Najafi) of this plane appeared on Iraqi National TV. The copilot was against defecting and seeking asylum. He stayed in Iraq as a prisoner of war and returned to Iran in September 1990. Mr. Moradi Talebi’s coworkers believe he escaped to Iraq because of the assault and battery he was subjected to by the agents of the Committee and because of the lack of adequate welfare amenities.

According to Tom Cooper’s interview with Ahmad Seddiq, an officer in the Iraqi Air Force Intelligence Service, after many years of war with Iran, Iraqi forces decided on a new tactic in dealing with the Islamic Republic Air Force. The Iranian F14s were very powerful opponents in the sky, and they had incurred much damage with the Phoenix Missiles carried by these jets. The Iraqis decided to contact the pilots of the Iranian Air Forces and convince them to flee Iran. Starting in 1984, the Iraqis established telephone contact with Iranian pilots. In this regard, Ahmad Seddiq says: “We talked to Iranian pilots in English from Istanbul, Turkiye. We were able to find several pilots. Some of them expressed a desire to escape from Iran – but they wanted to go to the West, not to Iraq.” (WarIsBoring, August 29, 2017). The Iraqis continued their efforts and eventually contacted Mr. Moradi Talebi, F14 pilot based in Esfahan Air Force Base. He was in contact with the Iraqi Armed Forces Intelligence Agency for quite some time without alerting the Iranian counterintelligence agents. Mr. Moradi was scheduled to flee Iran on September 3, 1986. However, he was assigned and proceeded to fly a military air patrol to protect Iranian oil tankers near Bushihr, one day earlier. He therefore used this opportunity to carry out his plan. When their jet fighter entered Iraqi air space, they were attacked by the Iraqi Air Force, who know nothing about this escape plan. They fired and hit the jet fighter. The two pilots were able to eject and land safely with parachutes.

After his defection, in an interview in Iraq, Mr. Moradi Talebi said: “However, the regime, that is Khomeini, is interested in prolonging the war for his own survival and for more control over the people of Iran. Every once in a while, he talks about a decisive and final offensive. This is misleading. The people of Iran should know that there is never going to be a decisive and final offensive.” (A small section of this interview is on YouTube)

About his flight to Iraq, one of Mr. Moradi Talebi’s fellow pilots said, “Moradi took vacation time in 1985 and went with his family to Europe (probably Germany). His wife was a Homafar before the revolution. Over there, enemies contacted him and they came up with a plan for him to take a Tomcat jet to Iraq. They stressed it should have a Phoenix missile.” (Fars News Service)

Mr. Moradi Talebi went from Iraq to Europe in January 1987. He joined his wife and his children, aged seven and eight. In Geneva, they applied for political asylum. (Kayhan Hava’i)

The Islamic Republic Air Force immediately launched an extensive investigation into this defection, which was a heavy blow to Iran.

Background of the Iran-Iraq War and popular discontent 

The 8-year long Iran-Iraq war had roots in a number of historical territorial and political disputes including over the Shaṭṭ al-ʿArab, a river that was the border between the two countries, dating back to the 1930s. The two countries had attempted to settle the border dispute through a treaty in 1937, from which Iran withdrew in 1967, and an agreement in 1975, which Iraq reneged on in 1980 shortly before its September 1980 offensive against Iran. Two months into the war, and after capturing the city of Khorramshahr, Iraq’s army had bogged down into Iran’s territory. By mid-1982, Iran had recaptured most of its territory and carried out offensives inside Iraq. 

In July 1982, The UN Security Council approved a resolution calling for an immediate cease fire between Iran and Iraq. The withdrawal of forces to their own borders, but Iran rejected the resolution. Iranian leaders stressed in various statements that the withdrawal did not satisfy Iran's conditions for an end to the war. [NYT, 6/30 and 7/14] For Iran’s decision makers, the fall of Saddam and compensation were the preconditions for peace. (Washington Post, February 21, 1983; FBIS April 24, 1985) The stalemate in the war inflicted a heavy cost, in particular on civilians as Iraqi and Iranian planes bombed population centers and targeted the oil industrial complexes in both countries, Iraq used chemical weapons against the Iranian army and its own Kurdish population and Iran sacrificed thousands, mainly young boys, on minefields in Iran. (NYT, March 14, 1985)  By 1986, the high human cost of the war, the shelling of the cities, and the displacement of the most at risk populations had weakened significantly popular support for the war. Critical statements and protests in April and May 1985 as well as defections, including of pilots, were reported by the media. (FBIS April 25, 1985; Washington Post, May 18, 1985)*

Mr. Moradi Talebi’s Death

According to available information, Mr. Moradi Talebi and his pregnant wife had gone for a walk on the evening of Monday August 10, 1987. At 9 pm, when they returned to their place of residence, Hotel Edelweiss at 41 Phillippe-Plantamour street in the Paquis area in Geneva, they were attacked by two unknown persons. One of these pushed his wife aside and the other one killed Mr. Moradi Talebi in full view of his wife, shooting him three times in the head and twice in the chest. After the shooting, the assailants, who had followed Mr. Moradi Talebi and his wife, quickly fled the scene in a car.

Prior to this event, Mr. Moradi Talebi had had a feeling that something dangerous was about to happen, and he had talked about this with the officials handling his asylum proceedings in Geneva. These officials had advised him to change his place of residence as soon as possible.

Iranian Officials’ Reaction

Official media in Iran published the news of Mr. Moradi Talebi’s killing. One article talked about his “execution”.

Skyhunter website publishes all the latest military news, articles, books and documents from Iran and all the world. They said this about the extrajudicial execution of Mr. Moradi Talebi: “Let this be a lesson for all the traitors who betray their people and defect to the enemy.”

There is a film about the extra judicial killing of Mr. Moradi Talebi. Mr. Fereidun Mazandarani, an F14 pilot from those times, said, “After 6 months, they showed me a film and asked if I knew the lady. I said yes, this is Mrs. Moradi. They asked if I knew the person next to her. I looked. Just as this person (who was Ahmad Moradi) was coming towards the camera, he was suddenly shot and killed. Where?  It was either Germany or Switzerland.”  (Fars News Agency)

This interview was published in Sharq News Website, with this explanation: “It should be mentioned that all of the pilots who attempted to steal jet fighters were killed. None of them were able to get away…”

Swiss Officials’ Reaction

At the crime scene, Swiss police found six 7.68 shells from a military gun made in West Germany, and ten yards away, they found the murder weapon, a ‘Walther PPK’ with a silencer attached. Police constructed a portrait of the perpetrator with the help of witnesses. The murderer was about 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a medium build. He was wearing a dark hat and sunglasses. His companion was about 5 feet 7 inches tall and heavy. He was wearing a blue sweater. Both were clean shaven.

Swiss police actively pursued two men “from one of the Persian Gulf States” but were not able to find any sign of the murderers. According to Swiss laws, the murder case of Mr. Moradi Talebi is still open.

Family’s Reaction

There is no information on the reaction of Mr. Moradi Talebi's family.

Impacts on Family

There is no information on the impact of the extra judicial killing of Mr. Moradi Talebi on his family.


July: Iranian troops attacked Basra; Iranian forces entered Iraq and Iraq launched a counteroffensive; fighting took place around Qasr-i Shirin, opening up a new northern front; Iraqi planes attacked Hamadan, inflicting casualties; heavy fighting occurred around Basra; Iraqi jets attacked the towns of Ilam and Khurramabad; Iranian planes bombed Baghdad, and Iraqi planes attacked Ahwaz and Dizful in retaliation. [NYT, FBIS, WP] 
October: Iraqi forces launched a major offensive in the Mandali region, inflicting heavy casualties; Iraqi jets attacked Dizful, inflicting heavy casualties. [NYT, FBIS, WP] 
December: Iraq destroyed Iranian naval targets in the Gulf; Iraqi missiles attacked Dizful, inflicting serious casualties; Iran shelled Basra; the Iraqi forces carried out scores of bombing missions in Khuzistan; heavy fighting occurred on the southern front.  [NYT, FBIS] 
Feb. 10: Iran's President 'Ali Khaman'i said the "punishment of the leaders of the Iraqi regime" was the main goal of the war. Iraq's withdrawal from Iran's territory was no longer a condition for peace, he said, because Iran had recaptured most of the land it lost. [2/21 WP] 
January 19: UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said a UN inspection team had found evidence that Iraqi planes bombed several civilian areas in Iran in January. [1/19 WP]
February: Iran and Iraq accused one another of shelling cities and other civilian areas; Apr. 20: A joint statement broadcast by clandestine Radio of the Iranian Toilers, the opposition Tudeh party and the Feda'iyan-i Khalq said recent demonstrations in Tehran protesting the Iran-Iraq war had been brutally crushed by regime authorities. [4/24 FBIS] 
March 13: Iran accused Iraq of using chemical weapons, and UN experts confirmed that Iranian soldiers had been affected by mustard gas and a nerve agent called tabun. [3/14 NYT] 
March 27: Iran said its demands for ending the war were the elimination of the Iraqi regime, $350 billion in war reparations, and the return of 200,000 Iraqi "refugees" to Iraq. [3/28 FBIS]
September: Iraqi planes continued to attack Kharg and naval targets near-by; foreign tankers continued to be attacked in the Gulf; Iranian planes bombed the ‘Ayn Zalah oil installation; Iranian planes raided Iraqi targets around Basra; Iraqi planes destroyed power stations at the Dizah and Rizasha dams; Iranian planes bombed power installations at the Dukan dam; Iranian artillery destroyed an Iraqi radar site at al-Faw; fighting occurred on the western and northern fronts. [FBIS, NYT]
October: Iraqi planes bombed Kharg and naval targets in the Gulf; Iraqi and Iranian planes attacked foreign tankers in the Gulf; Iranian forces launched an offensive in the Sumar area; Iraq attacked the Bahnegan, Cyrus, and Ardeshir oil fileds and the Khvor Malih monitoring station; Iranian planes attacked al-Halfaya and Darband oil installations. [FBIS, WP]
Apr. 25: The West German press agency reported that about 1000 people had been detained in Iran after they participated in peaceful demonstrations against the Iran-Iraq war. [4/25 FBIS] 
Motorists created a huge traffic jam in Tehran to demonstrate against the government and the war with Iraq, in answer to an appeal from Paris by exiled former premier Shahpur Bakhtiar. [5/18 WP]
May 18: The Washington Post reported that Iranian leaders were split over whether the fall of Saddam should be a precondition for ending the war. Speaker 'Ali Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani and Foreign Minister' Ali Akbar Vilayati were reportedly in favor of ending the war without insisting on it, while President Khaman'i and Prime Minister Mir Husuyn Musavi held that his ouster was necessary. [5/18 WP]
June: Iranian and Iraqi planes raided each other’s capitals; Iraqi planes raided navel targets near Kharg and the island’s oil terminal; Iraqi planes attacked the Bandar Khumayni petrochemical complex; Iranian artillery raided Basra; Iraqi planes raided Tabriz, Isfahan, and Hamid; a huge explosion shook Baghdad; Iraqi planes attacked Ilam and Paveh, Kurdistan; Iranian and Iraqi planes shelled border towns; tankers continued to be hit in the Gulf; Iran reported heavy fighting in its southern region and in the central sector. [NYT, WP, AN]  

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