Iran on Thursday released a Russian journalist detained in Tehran last week amid reports she had been arrested for allegedly spying for Israel, Russian media reported.
Tehran denied those reports, saying the case was about a visa violation. Early Thursday they put Yulia Yuzikon a flight back to Moscow, the Russian news site Vesti reported, citing the Russian embassy in Tehran.
Earlier in the week Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters that Yuzik’s case was under “quick review” by authorities and wasn’t related to matters concerning the “counter-espionage” department. Her ex-husband said last week she had been arrested for allegedly spying for Israel.
The Russian Embassy in Tehran said on Friday that Yuzik flew into Tehran the previous Sunday and that Iranian officials seized her passport at the airport for unknown reasons. She was arrested from her hotel room on Wednesday.
The Russian foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to Moscow to explain Yuzik’s arrest.
Prior to her arrest, Yuzik posted photographs from her trip on Instagram, saying she loved being in Iran.
Yuzik, 38, has worked for a number of publications including the Russian version of Newsweek. She authored two books including “Beslan Dictionary,” which is based on testimony from survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre that claimed more than 330 lives, more than half of them children.
She was first declared missing by family members who said she was arrested in Tehran. Her ex-husband Boris Voytsekhovskiy posted on Facebook that Yuzik was facing charges of cooperating with Israeli intelligence services. He told Russian media outlets that Yuzik used to work as a correspondent in Tehran several years ago, and she returned to the Iranian capital last week at the invitation of an unknown party.
He said that Iranian authorities confiscated Yuzik’s passport upon her arrival, telling her it would be returned to her when she departed the country. Days later, Voytsekhovskiy said that Revolutionary Guard Corps broke into her Tehran hotel room and detained her.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps broke into her hotel room yesterday and accused her of cooperating with Israeli security services,” Voytsekhovskiy told Russia’s RBC news site on Thursday.