DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran confirmed on Sunday the detention of an Iranian-American visiting the country, the latest in a string of arrests of dual nationals in the past year.
Asked about reports of the arrest of a dual citizen on national security charges, Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei told a weekly news conference: “The report on the arrest of an Iranian-American dual national is correct,” the semi-official Fars news agency said.
“But I don’t know what the charges are. The person was arrested in Gorgan… but the trial may be held in Tehran,” Mohseni Ejei added.
It was not immediately clear if he was referring to the case of San Diego, California-based Robin Reza Shahini who was detained while visiting his mother in the northeastern city of Gorgan earlier in July, according to the Los Angeles Times and other Western media.
In the past nine months, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least six dual-national Iranians, their friends and family members say, the highest number of Iranians with dual-nationality detained at one time in recent years to have been acknowledged. The government has confirmed most of the detentions, without giving details of any charges.
The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, which prevents relevant Western embassies from seeing individuals who have been detained.
In March, the State Department issued a warning noting that Iranian-Americans are particularly at risk of being detained or imprisoned if they travel to Iran.
According to former prisoners, families of current ones and diplomats, in some cases the detainees are kept to be used for a prisoner exchange with Western countries.
In January, the United States and Iran reached a historic prisoner swap deal that saw Iranians held or charged in the United States, mostly for sanctions violations, released in return for Americans imprisoned in Iran.
Several Iranian dual nationals from the United States, Britain, Canada and France are being kept behind bars on various charges, including espionage or collaborating with a hostile government.