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Iran releases 1 Danish, 2 Austrian citizens after Oman mediation

The newest release of European dual nationals follows a prisoner swap between Iran and Belgium also mediated by Oman.

One Danish and two Austrian citizens were released from detention in Iran on Friday, following further mediation by Oman.

Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb are en route to Austria from Iran. Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg specifically thanked Belgian diplomat Hadja Lahbib and Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Al Busaidi for their release.



An unnamed citizen of Denmark was also released, The Associated Press reported.

Ghaderi is an Iranian-Austrian businessman who was arrested in 2016 and convicted of spying for the United States, according to The Associated Press.

Mossaheb, also an Iranian-Austrian dual national, was arrested in 2019 and convicted of a vague security crime. He had traveled to Iran with a delegation from the Austrian radiation therapy facility MedAustron, according to Iran International.

Background: There have been several high-profile cases of Europeans being imprisoned on dubious grounds in Iran in recent years. Many of them have been dual citizens, such as Iranian-British media professional Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was released last year, and Iranian-Swedish doctor Ahmad Reza Djalali, who remains in prison.

Most recently, Iranian state media outlets published the supposed confession of former Iranian official Alireza Akbari, who is also a British citizen, of espionage. BBC Persian released an audio tape of Akbari denying the charges, Al-Monitor’s corespondent in Tehran reported in January.

The release of the Austrians and Dane follows the release of Belgian humanitarian worker Olivier Vandecasteele in May. His release, also mediated by Oman, came in exchange for Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who was imprisoned in Belgium.

Also in May, a French citizen and a dual Irish-French citizen were released from Iranian prison.

Why it matters: Iran’s judicial system has been widely criticized by Iranian and international watchdogs for unfair trials and harsh terms. A staggering 307 people have been executed in Iran this year, a 76% increase from the year prior, the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights said on Thursday.

The recent releases also demonstrate Oman’s strong diplomatic role in Iran’s relations with the West. Oman has traditionally remained neutral in regional conflicts. Omani Sultan Sultan Haitham visited Iran last Sunday and met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

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