Russian journalist held in Iran as alleged spy for Israel ‘to be freed soon’

Moscow summons Iran’s envoy to clarify circumstances surrounding Yulia Yuzik’s arrest; Russian embassy in Tehran requests access to her

Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik, arrested in Tehran in October 2019. (YouTube screenshot)
Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik, arrested in Tehran in October 2019. (YouTube screenshot)

Iran’s ambassador to Moscow told Russia’s deputy foreign minister on Friday that a Russian journalist arrested in Iran on suspicion of spying on the Islamic Republic on behalf of Israel will “soon be released.” according to a statement by the Russian ministry.

Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Iran’s envoy was invited to the foreign ministry to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov “to quickly clarify the circumstances” and ensure the rights of journalist Yulia Yuzik are observed.

The Russian embassy in Tehran told AFP the mission had requested consular access to Yuzik.

“She’s being accused of working for Israeli security services,” Andrei Ganenko, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Tehran, told AFP, citing her mother.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov in Seoul, South Korea, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Yuzik was first declared missing earlier this week by family members who said she was arrested in Tehran days ago. Her ex-husband Boris Voytsekhovskiy posted on Facebook that Yuzik was facing charges of cooperating with Israeli intelligence services, and that her trial is scheduled for Saturday.

According to Voytsekhovskiy, Yuzik’s charges carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

It wasn’t clear when Yuzik was arrested; her last post on social media was a series of Instagram pictures taken in Kashan, a city in northern part of Isfahan province.

Voytsekhovskiy 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.

Russia’s Embassy in Tehran told the TASS news agency it was aware of Yuzik’s arrest, and was “sorting out the situation.”

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.

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