By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A U.N.-accredited journalist working for an Iranian broadcaster has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon after U.N. security found a stage-prop gun in his baggage, police and U.N. officials said on Friday.
"An accredited journalist was found with a toy gun, I believe it was," said U.N. spokesman Eduardo del Buey. "It was found in his baggage. He was detained, and he was turned over to the national authorities."
He added that the incident occurred on Thursday. Several U.N. officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the journalist is a U.S. citizen who has been working for Iranian state-funded broadcaster Press TV.
A spokesman for the New York Police Department, Officer James Duffy, said the pistol was an Ekol Viper 2.5.
"It's a real gun that fires blanks," he said.
Duffy said the journalist was arraigned and charged with "criminal possession of a weapon," before being released. Duffy said it would now be up to the New York District Attorney's office to follow up on the case.
Del Buey was asked if the gun had been placed in the reporter's baggage to test the vigilance of U.N. security. He said he had no information about the journalist's reasons for bringing it into the United Nations building days ahead of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The anniversary has led to heightened security in New York City, where police were out in force on Friday in response to intelligence on a possible attack linked to the anniversary.
The incident also occurred on the same day that the father of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier detained for nearly six years by Palestinian Hamas militants, spoke to the U.N. press corps to plead for his son's release.
The United Nations has been tightening security at its New York City headquarters recently ahead of the annual gathering of world leaders for the opening of the new U.N. General Assembly session later this month.
Press TV, a state-funded English-language network based in Tehran, did not respond immediately to an e-mailed request for reaction.
The United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980 in the midst of a hostage crisis.
(Editing by Will Dunham)