January 27, 2019 / 1:36 PM / 10 months ago

Lawyer says detained Australian-based academic freed: IRNA

DUBAI (Reuters) - The lawyer of an Australian-based academic detained on charges of trying to “infiltrate” Iranian institutions said on Sunday she was freed a few days ago, Iran’s state news agency reported.

Meimanat Hosseini-Chavoshi, a population expert, is affiliated with the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, according to the University of Melbourne’s website.

“I checked today and I was told that Mrs. Chavoshi has been released a few days ago,” said Mahmoud Behzadi, lawyer of Hosseini-Chavoshi who was held in December as she was leaving Iran, according to the IRNA agency.

It was not immediately clear whether Chavoshi still faced any charges.

Population control has become a sensitive issue in Iran since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued an edict in 2014 calling for a population increase after decades of state-promoted birth control.

Last year, he urged greater efforts to combat enemy “infiltration” as tensions escalated with the United States after Washington withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

Chavoshi has been reported to hold dual Australian and Iranian nationality.

Reuters reported in 2017 that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had arrested at least 30 dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.

Iran does not recognize dual nationality and does not routinely announce arrests or charges of dual nationals.

There was no immediate word from Australian officials on Chavoshi’s situation.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Catherine Evans and Andrew Cawthorne

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