Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik refutes Iranian claims of visa violation

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Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik who was detained earlier this month in Iran has confirmed that she was charged with spying, refuting Iranian claims that she was charged with a visa violation instead.

In an interview with Radio Farda, Yuzik said that she was charged with “spying for Israel and cooperating with its intelligence agencies.”

Media reports had said that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested the Russian journalist in Tehran on October 4 on charges of cooperating with Israeli intelligence. However, the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) quoted Iran’s government spokesman on October 7 as saying that Yuzik was not charged with spying but a visa violation and her case is under a “quick review.”

Two days after arriving in Tehran, a woman and several men “forcibly” entered Yuzik’s room and took her to prison, according to the Russian journalist.

Yuzik, who is now in Moscow, says that she was taken to court after being arrested, and was told that her charge was “espionage for Israel.”

The Russian journalist went to Iran on an invitation from “Iran Today,” a Russian-language, state-run TV channel that she had previously worked with, according to Radio Farda.

In the fall of 2018, she was also held in an airport in Iran for 20 hours. After being interrogated, the Iranian authorities apologized to Yuzik and said that the “ambiguities” had been resolved, Radio Farda reported.

Yuzik believes that the recent invitation to Iran which led to her arrest was a “pre-planned operation.”

Yuzik said that her opposition to the Russian government may have led the Iranian intelligence services to think that Moscow will not intervene in her arrest. “It is possible that the intelligence agencies in Iran thought that because I oppose the government, the Kremlin will even appreciate my arrest.”

Russia’s foreign ministry had summoned the Iranian ambassador regarding Yuzik's detention.

Iran freed Yuzik on October 10.

Yuzik said that despite her “love” for Iran, she will never travel to the country again.

Several foreign nationals are currently under arrest in Iran.

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, British Council staffer Aras Amiri, Australian-British Travel blogger Jolie King and her Australian boyfriend Mark Firkin, and British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert are some of the other foreign nationals currently detained in Iran.

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