Iran has confirmed the detention of several paragliders from Slovakia two days after their country announced they had been apprehended, reportedly accused of espionage.
“They came to Iran as tourists but behaved inappropriately and had unconventional devices in their possession,” Abbas Araqchi, spokesman for the foreign ministry, told the ISNA news agency on Sunday.
“They broke the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran and were arrested by the relevant authorities.”
Araqchi did not say when or where they were detained or how many people were involved, only that “an investigation has begun and their case will be referred later to the judiciary”.
He also confirmed they had been given consular access.
Slovak foreign ministry spokesman Boris Gandel told the AFP news agency on Friday: “Our diplomats in Tehran are in touch with the arrested citizens and the Iranian authorities.”
Slovakia’s SME newspaper reported that five or six Slovak paragliders had been detained in Iran “more than three weeks ago for taking pictures of military objects from above”.
Another Slovak citizen was arrested in the country last year on allegations of spying for the US CIA and paraded on state television.
The 26-year-old, who used to work as a headhunter in Iran’s telecommunications sector, was released after spending 40 days in solitary confinement.
State television said he was accused of contacting Iranian scientists to seek information on “the country’s scientific progress”.