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Europeans in custody in Iran freed after prisoner swap

Austrian officials have expressed their relief following the release of two Austrian-Iranian dual nationals who had been imprisoned in Iran for several years.

Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb were freed as part of a prisoner swap arrangement that involved European nations and an Iranian diplomat.

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The detention of Ghaderi and Mossaheb had drawn international criticism. Additionally, Belgium confirmed the release of a Danish citizen as part of the swap.

The trio is now flying into Belgium. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg expressed his relief on Twitter, emphasizing the end of their arduous imprisonment, while Chancellor Karl Nehammer stated that their prolonged suffering has now come to an end.

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Kamran Ghaderi was arrested in Iran in 2016 on spying charges and was sentenced to ten years in prison, with his family asserting that his confession was coerced.

Massud Mossaheb, believed to be in his 70s, was arrested in Tehran in 2019 and was sentenced for vague national security offenses, as noted by Amnesty International.

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Ghaderi spent 2,709 days in confinement, while Mossaheb spent 1,586 days.

The Danish national released in the swap has not been identified.

The earlier prisoner exchange between Belgium and Iran involved the release of Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele and Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi.

Vandecasteele had spent 455 days in prison after being convicted of espionage and other charges, which he denied. Assadi, on the other hand, was convicted in Belgium in 2021 on terrorism charges related to a failed bomb plot in France and had been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The release of the Austrian-Iranian citizens was announced on Friday following mediation talks facilitated by Oman, which had also brokered the previous prisoner exchange.

Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg described the day as “very emotional” after years of discreet diplomatic efforts and expressed gratitude to the Austrian embassy in Tehran, as well as his Belgian and Omani counterparts.

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