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Iran news agency calls for investigating Austrian envoy for traveling across country

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An Iranian news agency has urged the country’s authorities to investigate the Austrian ambassador to Tehran for traveling across Iran, saying he could be collecting intelligence during his trips.

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Ambassador Stefan Scholz “has taken business trips to 25 Iranian provinces so far and none of them have been done for the purpose of sightseeing or pleasure,” Iran’s Mehr news agency said in a piece published on Saturday.

Mehr claimed Scholz met with Iranian businessman during his trips and “obtained an accurate estimate of the capacities, problems, and shortcomings of each province.”

Since Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Western intelligence services have been trying to gather information on the impact of sanctions on the Iranian economy, as well as the methods used by Iran to circumvent sanctions, Mehr claimed.

“One cannot ignore the hypothesis that these trips can be used to assess the impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy,” Mehr said, adding that the Iranian authorities should investigate “the unusual travels” of Scholz.

Scholz had said in an interview with a Tehran-based media outlet in October that he has so far visited 25 out of 31 Iranian provinces.

“They were all business trips. We draw up plans to establish a link between those working in the private sectors of Iran and Austria and to boost cultural cooperation,” Scholz said.

In May, an Iranian newspaper accused Germany’s former envoy to Tehran of being a “Zionist spy” after Berlin branded the Lebanese Iran-backed Hezbollah a “Shia terrorist organization.”

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