The remaining two Slovak paragliders detained in Iran are back home. After more than 200 days spent in detention over espionage allegations, they were flown into Bratislava on December 13 shortly after 1:30 by a government airplane.

They were allowed to leave Iran after several hours of intense negotiations, involving Prime Minister Robert Fico and Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák, and the main deputy of Iranian president and first Vice-president Es’haq Jahangiri on the Iranian side, the TASR newswire wrote. The talks then continued on the expert level. Fico claimed that it was a battle of nerves, as the two paragliders were theoretically released, but it took several more hours to procure all documents necessary for leaving Iran. Lajčák added that the situation was more complex than it seemed on December 12 when they arrived to the country.

Pavol Šeliga and Marek Stolarčík were the last two Slovaks that remained in the country after their six colleagues were released in September. Eight Slovaks were detained in mid-May for what Iranian authorities called “illegal activities, including taking photos of prohibited places” in the Isfahan province, where several key nuclear facilities are located, including at least one plant used for enriching uranium. They are members of Paragliding Expedition Slovakia, a group that has organised several expeditions in recent years, and which made documentary films that they later presented at film festivals. The group claims to have travelled to Iran as tourists in early May.

Iranian authorities confirmed that eight Slovak paragliders had been detained on June 30, saying they were “behaving inappropriately and had unconventional devices with them”, as reported by TASR. One of the six released paragliders said that they were detained for having dual-band transmitters.

Šeliga is a professional cameraman and Stolarčík a nuclear physicist.

(Source: TASR, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.