Iran holds Slovak tourists over photos: media

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2013 11:38 AM
Iran holds Slovak tourists over photos: media

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian judicial authorities have opened an investigation into eight Slovak citizens, arrested on suspicion of taking photographs of "restricted areas", Iranian media reported on Monday.

Slovak media reported last week that a group of Slovak tourists had been arrested three weeks earlier and accused of taking aerial photographs, including some of military installations, from hang gliders.

Some Slovak reports said they had been paragliding.

Iran has repeatedly leveled accusations of espionage against foreign nationals and Iranians in recent years. Last year, an Iranian-American Amir Hekmati was sentenced to death for spying for the CIA but judges overturned the decision and ordered a retrial.

"Nine people, including eight Slovak citizens and one Iranian have been arrested ... for bringing illicit equipment into Iran in pieces and using it illegally," Mehr news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying.

"These people have taken pictures of restricted areas. This case is under investigation by the court and inquiries are continuing," he said.

The spokesman gave no further details. Iran's foreign ministry said on Sunday seven Slovak tourists had been arrested and that their government had been informed.

In 2011, Iran freed two U.S. citizens - Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer - who had been sentenced to eight years in jail for spying after being arrested while hiking along the Iraq-Iran border in 2009. They had been held for over two years.

A third person detained with them, Sarah Shourd, was freed in 2010 after 14 months. They denied being spies.

(Reporting by Marcus George; Additional reporting by Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)