National flags in Bandar Abbas, Iran
National flags in Bandar Abbas, Iran iStock

A Russian journalist who is being held in Iran was detained last week for a visa violation and not for spying, Reuters reported on Monday, citing the Iranian news agency ISNA.

Iran’s government spokesman told ISNA that Yulia Yuzik’s case was undergoing a “quick review” by the Iranian authorities but gave no more details.

“Her case was a matter of visa violation and it was not related to espionage ... Yuzik’s case is under quick review by Iranian authorities,” said the spokesman, Ali Rabiei.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry had summoned the Iranian ambassador on Friday over Yuzik’s detention and the Kremlin said on Monday it hoped Yuzik would be released soon.

“We view negatively detentions of Russian journalists and consider them unacceptable. We hope that in the very near future she will be released and the Russian side will get the necessary explanations,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Reuters.

In a brief phone conversation with her mother late on Thursday, Yuzik said security forces had broken into her hotel room and detained her on suspicion of having ties to Israeli intelligence services, her ex-husband Boris Voitsekhovsky said.

Voitsekhovsky said Yuzik did not hold joint Israeli citizenship or a visa for that country and last visited Israel about 15 or 17 years ago to report on the Israeli army’s daily life for Russia’s Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

Iran regularly says it captured spies, and sometimes those are sentenced to death.

In August, Iran jailed two people, including a British dual national, for 10 years for spying for Israel.

In June, a former Iranian Department of Defense contractor was executed by Iran for spying for the US government.

In 2016, the Islamic Republic arrested a member of the negotiating team that reached a nuclear deal with world powers on suspicion of spying.

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