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Iran frees 3 Europeans in prisoner swap as detained American’s lawyer denies rumors of imminent release

Berlin — Two Austrian citizens and a Danish national who were held in Iran were being released and allowed to return home, officials in Austria and Belgium said Friday. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said he was “very relieved” that Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb were being brought back to their home country after “years of arduous detention in Iran.”

He thanked the foreign ministers of Belgium and Oman for providing “valuable support,” without elaborating on what form it took.

The Reuters news agency cited a Belgian government statement as saying a Danish person arrested in Iran in November 2022 in connection with women’s rights demonstrations was the third individual being released Friday as part of a prisoner swap.

The agreement was to see Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi freed from Belgian custody. He was convicted in Belgium in 2021 and sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a foiled bomb plot targeting Iranian exiles in France. A gaunt-looking Belgian aid worker, Olivier Vandecasteele, returned to Brussels from Iran last week as the first person freed under the swap agreement.

FILE PHOTO: Belgian Aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, who was arrested in Iran in 2022 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, is freed in a swap with an Iranian diplomat imprisoned in Belgium
Belgian Aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, 42, who was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges including spying, is welcomed by his family at Belgium’s Melsbroek military airport after being freed in a swap for an Iranian diplomat imprisoned in Belgium in connection with a failed bomb plot, in Steenokkerzeel, Belgium, May 26, 2023.

Didier Lebrun/Pool/REUTERS

Iranian state media and officials did not immediately acknowledge a release on Friday, which is part of the weekend in the Islamic Republic.

Iran has detained a number of foreigners and dual nationals over the years, accusing them of espionage or other state security offenses and sentencing them following

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