Thursday, 6 January 2011

Iran detains US woman on spying charges

According to Iranian press, an American woman has been detained by the Iranian authorities on suspicion of spying. The woman, who is said to have entered the country illegally, was arrested near the town of Norduz, some 600km northwest of the capital Tehran.

A state owned newspaper that published the report said the 55 year old American woman, who allegedly entered Iran from the neighbouring Armenia without a visa, was carrying concealed spying equipment, but refused to reveal what the equipment was for.

This latest arrest could potentially further strain relations between US and the Islamic republic. Iran is currently holding two other US citizens on spying charges, arrested in July 2009. Shane Bower and Josh Fattal were detained near the Iraqi border along with Sarah Shourd, who was released last September.

Shourd, released on bail of $500,000, returned to the US and has maintained her innocence. Her two companions remain in jail awaiting trial, due to take place in November. Bower and Fattal also deny they were spying, while the US has doubts as to whether they crossed into Iran at all.

Sources: Reuters, Aljazeera, AP, CBS News

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

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