An Austrian citizen who was arrested in Iran last October has been sentenced to several years in prison for alleged espionage. On Tuesday evening, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the man had been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for the crime. The Iranian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, where he was informed of Austria’s “unequivocal protest against the verdict.”
The man’s name has not been released by Austrian officials, but it is known that he is not a dual citizen, unlike two other Austrian citizens who are currently imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage. The man was arrested in October of last year, and his detention was unrelated to the protests in the country.
According to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, two years of the sentence could be waived for good behavior, and they have been in regular contact with the man’s family since his arrest. Three visits have been conducted so far, during which the Austrian ambassador to Iran was able to meet with the man.
The case of the Austrian citizen adds to a growing number of Western nationals who have been detained and imprisoned by Iranian authorities on charges of espionage. Kamran Ghaderi, a Vienna-based IT expert and Iranian-Austrian dual citizen, has been in custody in Tehran since 2016. Massud Mossaheb, the Secretary General of the Austrian-Iranian Society, was detained during a visit to Tehran in early 2019 and was granted medical leave for health reasons in November.
The Austrian Foreign Ministry has condemned the Iranian government’s decision to imprison the man and has called for his immediate release. In a statement, the ministry said that they “have been in regular contact with the Iranian authorities regarding this case and have raised our concerns at the highest level. We are deeply concerned about the fate of our citizen and call on the Iranian authorities to release him immediately.”
The ministry also stressed that the case highlights the importance of consular protection and assistance for citizens traveling abroad. The Austrian government is committed to providing support and assistance to its citizens abroad, especially in cases of arrest or detention.
The case of the Austrian citizen has raised concerns among human rights groups, who have criticized Iran’s record of imprisoning individuals on vague charges of espionage. The use of such charges has been seen by many as a way for the Iranian government to silence dissent and limit free speech.
In response to the growing number of arrests and imprisonments, the European Union has imposed targeted sanctions against Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which is responsible for detaining and interrogating individuals accused of espionage.
The case of the Austrian citizen Sentenced, is a stark reminder of the challenges faced by individuals traveling to countries with questionable human rights records. It highlights the need for individuals to be aware of the risks involved when traveling to such countries and to take steps to protect themselves and seek assistance when necessary.