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Iran demands release of citizen held in Saudi Arabia since hajj pilgrimage

Little is known about detainee, who has not been identified by Islamic Republic, nor has Sunni kingdom officially announced an arrest

In this photo taken with low shutter speed, Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 6, 2022. (Amr Nabil/AP)
In this photo taken with low shutter speed, Muslim pilgrims circumambulate around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 6, 2022. (Amr Nabil/AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran on Friday issued a public statement saying it is seeking the release of an Iranian national who has been held by Saudi Arabia since this year’s hajj pilgrimage, which concluded a month ago.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s top diplomat Hossein Amir-Abdollahian issued the call during a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart. Iraq has served as a mediator and facilitator of talks between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The statement did not identify the detainee.

There was no immediate acknowledgment of the detention by Saudi Arabia.

Iraq has played a key role in facilitating talks between the regional rivals, including hosting several rounds of direct talks between security officials from both countries.

Iran, the largest Shiite Muslim country in the world, and Sunni powerhouse Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties in 2016 after Saudi Arabia executed prominent Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

An Iranian woman holds up a poster showing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric who was executed by Saudi Arabia, in Tehran, Iran, during a protest on January 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Angry Iranians protesting the execution stormed two Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran in response to the killing. The Saudi embassy and consulate have remained closed ever since.

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