LONDON -- Former Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh confessed on Iranian television he received money in connection with an alleged assassination attempt against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Tehran Radio said Tuesday.
'I am shamed before the nation. Free me or execute me,' Ghotbzadeh was quoted by an exile source as saying in the nationwide broadcast.
Ghotbzadeh, whose face became familiar to millions of Americans as a spokesman for the Tehran government during the hostage crisis, reportedly admitted in the interview he had received money from an aide to a powerful religious leader in southern Iran opposed to Khomeini.
Last week, two religous leaders in the Islamic government said the Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, 82, paid Ghotbzadeh up to $250,000 to buy a house in Tehran to launch a rocket at Khomeini's home 150 yards away.
Ayatollah Shariatmadari's son, Hassan, said from his home in Hamburg, West Germany, that the money given to Ghotbzadeh was a New Year's gift of $1,250.
The exile sources said Ghotbzadeh, who studied briefly at Georgetown University in Washington, admitted on television he was involved in a coup attempt but did not say he plotted to kill Khomeini.
Once called 'my son' by the ayatollah, Ghotzadeh sat at Khomeini's side on the plane that returned both of them to take power in Tehran after the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in February 1979.
Khomeini put him in charge of Iran's broadcast services and the hostage crisis catapulted him into the foreign minister's position but Ghotbzadeh was ousted a year later by Moslem hard-liners.
The Ayatollah Shariatmadari was stripped of his titles Monday in connection with the plot, Tehran radio said. A revolutionary guard spokesman in Qom told UPI no formal charges had been made against Shariatmadari and 'he is at home.'
The radio, quoting the government Religious Sciences Circle, said Ghotbzadeh's confession proved Shariatmadari's role in the coup attempt.
Ghotbzadeh was arrested April 8 along with 44 other people on a charge of attempting to overthrow the Khomeini government.
Hassan Shariatmadari said protestors shut shops in the ayatollah's stronghold of Azerbaijan after the religious leader was stripped of his titles.
Revolutionary guards interrogated Ayatollah Shariatmadari for six hours Monday at his home in Qom, 80 miles south of Tehran, the son said.