Austrian man jailed in Iran over alleged Israel spying may have COVID — family

Daughter of Massud Mossaheb says 74-year-old started suffering from fever last week, but has been denied virus test and medical care

In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Iran's national flag waves as Milad telecommunications tower and other buildings are seen in Tehran, Iran. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
In this March 31, 2020, file photo, Iran's national flag waves as Milad telecommunications tower and other buildings are seen in Tehran, Iran. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

VIENNA — The daughter of a 74-year-old Austrian citizen imprisoned in Iran has told of her fears for her father’s health after he started displaying coronavirus symptoms.

“He started suffering from fever last Thursday, but he doesn’t get the medical attention he needs, and he was denied a Covid test,” Fanak Mani, daughter of Massud Mossaheb, told AFP Tuesday of her father’s treatment in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Mossaheb was detained while traveling in Iran with a delegation from an Austrian research center in January 2019 and in August it was announced that he had been jailed for 10 years on charges of spying for Israel and Germany.

“Every time we speak to him we are afraid it’s the last time — he’s 74 and a very sick man, so he might not survive this,” Mani told AFP Tuesday, a day after her latest call to her father.

Mossaheb had already been suffering from a series of health complaints, including severe heart problems and diabetes.

Mani said her father was being detained in a cell with six other people, one of whom was another Austrian citizen of Iranian origin also jailed on spying charges, 56-year-old Kamran Ghaderi.

The families of both men say that they have faced torture in detention.

The Austrian government has called for both men to be released or at the least to be granted furlough and appropriate medical care.

Ghaderi’s family has also been quoted in Austrian media as saying he has developed virus symptoms.

Austrian foreign ministry spokesperson Johannes Aigner told AFP in a statement that Vienna had “repeatedly pointed to the urgency of granting furlough, given the high risk of an infection with COVID-19 while incarcerated.”

However, Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, severely limiting what foreign governments can do for dual citizens detained there.

The two men’s cases echo those of several other foreigners and dual nationals jailed in Iran.

Last month, Australian-British academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was freed in a prisoner swap in exchange for three Iranians linked to a botched Bangkok bomb plot, but others such as British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and French-Iranian Fariba Adelkhah are still stuck in Iran.

Last week Iran sparked a global outcry after hanging France-based dissident Ruhollah Zam, with Western governments accusing Tehran of abducting him abroad to be put on trial.

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