News ID: 259777
Published: 0406 GMT October 05, 2019

Iranian held in Australia returns home; Aussies’ also freed

Iranian held in Australia returns home; Aussies’ also freed

Iran released on Saturday an Australian couple detained on spying charges after Australia freed an Iranian student imprisoned for 13 months in the country.

The Iranian research student, Reza Dehbashi Kivi, was detained for 13 months on allegations of exporting US military equipment to Iran.

Dehbashi Kivi, a PhD student at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane, had been arrested for "attempting to purchase and transfer advanced American military radar equipment via Dubai to Iran," national broadcaster IRIB's website reported on Saturday.

"Australia's legal system intended to extradite Mr. Dehbashi to America, but he was eventually released" as Iran's Foreign Ministry had "resolved" the issue, the website added.

The 38-year-old student has never set foot in the United States, but had been accused of exporting American equipment for detecting stealth planes or missiles to Iran.

Since his arrest in August 2018, Dehbashi had been fighting to avoid extradition to the United States after lawyers for the US government applied for his extradition.

Dehbashi had been working on a "skin cancer detection device" at the time of his arrest. He had dismissed the charges as "a misunderstanding" and "unfair".

IRIB showed footage of what it said was Dehbashi arriving at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport.  

This is not the first time that Iranian university students and professors have been detained abroad.

Massoud Soleimani, a 49-year-old Iranian scientist left Iran on sabbatical last year, but was arrested upon arrival in Chicago and transferred to prison in Atlanta, Georgia for unspecified reasons.

On May 22, Iran’s minister of science, research, and technology said the United States has set a trap for Iranian scientists, enabling their entry into the country before arresting them.

Mansour Gholami said the US has identified a number of Iranian professors, who have conducted research in certain areas, published relevant scientific articles, and ordered and bought laboratory equipment.

“They issue visas for Iranian professors and arrest them upon their arrival in the US,” he said. "This is a type of game they play to lure Iranian professors there.”

He also ruled out the possibility that those targeted in the scheme might have been in violation of Washington’s sanctions.

The news of Dehbashi’s release came shortly after Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Saturday that an Australian couple who had been detained in Iran on spying charges were freed.  

Payne said all charges against them had been dropped and that the couple were on their way home and in “good health and in good spirits.”

According to Iran's Judiciary, Australian Mark Firkin and British-Australian Jolie King were detained almost three months ago over accusations of flying a drone without a permit, taking pictures of "military sites and forbidden areas."


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