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Austrian family fears Iran detainee accused of spying for Israel has COVID-19

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, tells AFP 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 tells AFP a day after her last call to her father.

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

Mani says her father is being detained in a cell with six other people, one of whom is 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 tells AFP in a statement that Vienna has “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.

— AFP

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