By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. security handed over a U.N.-accredited journalist working for an Iranian broadcaster to New York City police after a stage-prop gun was found in his baggage, 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, however, told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the gun was not a toy but a real weapon that had been rendered incapable of firing so that it could be used as a stage prop. The officials also said that the journalist was working for Iranian state-funded broadcaster Press TV.
The journalist handed over to NYPD is a U.S. citizen, the U.N. officials said.
Asked if the gun had been placed in the reporter's baggage to test the vigilance of U.N. security, del Buey 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. [nN1E78815V]
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.
NYPD did not have an immediate comment. Press TV, a state-funded English-language network based in Tehran, also did not respond immediately to an emailed request for reaction.
The United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980 in the midst of a hostage crisis.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)