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Possible progress in negotiations over Slovaks imprisoned in Iran

Negotiations over the release of a group of Slovak paragliders, who have been detained in Iran for 11 weeks on grounds of alleged espionage, have advanced, the Sme daily reported on August 7.

Negotiations over the release of a group of Slovak paragliders, who have been detained in Iran for 11 weeks on grounds of alleged espionage, have advanced, the Sme daily reported on August 7.

“Certain signals from Iranians give us space for wary optimism,” Peter Susko from the press department of the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry told Sme.

Slovakia has been in negotiations with Iran since May, when it first received information about the detained Slovaks. Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák met with Iranian Ambassador to Vienna, Hassan Tajin, who is responsible for Slovakia, at the beginning of June, asking him to allow a meeting between the paragliders and Slovak consul in Iran. Tajik also met with Slovak State Secretary of the MFA Peter Burian. The request has not been met yet, Sme wrote.

Susko said that the activities of some Iranian bodies were slowed down in the past few weeks because of the election and preparations for the inauguration of the new president, as reported by Sme.

According to Sme, there was a meeting between an Iranian delegation and the chair of the parliamentary committee for European affairs, Ľubooš Blaha, held on July 12. Though there is no official report from the meeting, Blaha confirmed to Sme that they were also discussing the detention of the Slovaks. He described the talks as constructive, but refused to reveal any further details.

The media first reported about the eight Slovaks detained for what Iranian authorities called “illegal activities, including taking photos of prohibited places” in the area of the Isfahan province, where many nuclear facilities are located, including a plant used to enrich uranium, in late June. According to the media reports, they are members of Paragliding Expedition Slovakia, and have organised several expeditions over the past few years, from which they have made documentary films presented at various festivals. They travelled to Iran as tourists at the beginning of May.

Source: Sme

For more information about this story please see: Slovak paragliders accused of espionage

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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