Iran releases 1 Danish citizen and 2 Austrians in operation involving Oman

BERLIN (AP) — Iran has freed a Dane and two Austrians, European countries said Friday, thanking Oman and Belgium for helping free the trio.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he was “very relieved” that Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb had been brought home after “years of arduous detention in Iran”.

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said he was “happy and relieved that a Danish citizen is on his way back to his family in Denmark after being imprisoned in Iran”. He did not name the person, saying his identity was “a personal matter” and he could not go into specifics.

Schallenberg thanked the foreign ministers of Belgium and Oman for their “valuable support”, without specifying the form it took. Løkke Rasmussen thanked Belgium and said Oman “played an important role”.

A Royal Air Force of Oman Gulfstream IV, which had been on the ground in Tehran for several days, took off shortly before the announcement. Oman often serves as an interlocutor between Iran and the West and smuggles freed captives out of the Islamic Republic.

The releases also come after Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq visited Iran on his first trip there since becoming the Arab nation’s leader in 2020.

Ghaderi is an Iranian-Austrian businessman who was arrested in 2016 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying for the United States, charges strongly denied by his supporters. His family had blamed Austria for remaining silent on his case in recent years.

Mossaheb, also an Iranian-Austrian businessman, was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to 10 years in prison after what Amnesty International called a “grossly unfair trial for vague national security violations”. Amnesty had said Mossaheb suffered from heart failure and diabetes, which made his imprisonment all the more dangerous for him.

Iranian media and officials did not immediately acknowledge a Friday release, which is part of the Islamic Republic weekend.

Last week, a prisoner swap between Belgium and Iran saw an Iranian diplomat convicted of trying to bomb exiles in France to return to Tehran while a visibly emaciated aid worker returned to Brussels.

Iran has detained a number of foreigners and dual nationals over the years, charging them with espionage or other state security offenses and convicting them after secret trials in which rights groups say they have been denied due process.

Critics have repeatedly accused Iran of using these prisoners as bargaining chips with the West.

Iran, facing Western sanctions over its rapidly advancing nuclear program, has seen protests in recent months and economic strains. However, he also achieved a detente with Saudi Arabia through Chinese mediation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency dropped two investigations into the country’s nuclear program.

Leave a Comment