Iran holds two Europeans for plotting unrest ahead of EU talks
Iranian authorities said they had detained two Europeans for trying to cause “chaos, instability and social disorder,” as a top EU official held talks in Tehran on stalled efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
The detentions were reported by the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency, citing Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. The identities and nationalities of those held weren’t released, nor were any details of when they were arrested.
Intelligence officials started tracking the individuals as soon as they arrived in Iran and found they were linked to a “foreign espionage organisation with several years of experience in fomenting unrest in other countries,” ISNA said, citing a ministry statement.
Iran has been accused in the past of detaining foreigners in order to gain leverage in international disputes.
Enrique Mora, the top European Union diplomat who had been coordinating the now deadlocked negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, arrived in Tehran late on Tuesday and is meeting officials. The atomic talks have been stalled by Iranian demands that the US lift a Trump-era terrorism designation for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Resurrecting the deal, which capped Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief until then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US in 2018, could trigger a sharp rise in Iranian crude exports.
News of the arrests also comes days after Iran’s judiciary said it will go ahead with the execution of a Swedish-Iranian academic who’s been in prison charged with spying since April 2016.
The case of Ahmadreza Djalili has raised tensions between Iran and Sweden, which is currently trying an Iranian official accused of taking part in the mass killing of thousands of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.
On Tuesday, Iran’s judiciary ruled out a prisoner exchange and said Djalili’s sentence was final. Last week, ISNA reported that he would be executed by May 21.
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