June 23, 2009 / 11:22 AM / 9 years ago

Washington Times journalist arrested in Iran

TEHRAN/ATHENS (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have arrested a Greek journalist covering Iran’s disputed presidential election for the Washington Times, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, calling for his release.

Greek national Iason Athanasiadis was arrested three days ago in Tehran on charges of ”illegal activities, a friend of the journalist told Reuters earlier on Tuesday.

“We can confirm that he has been arrested,” the foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters. “We are in constant contact with Iranian authorities in order to have a quick and good end to this story.”

“Right now we are interested in having him freed as soon as we can,” he said.

The spokesman declined to comment further on the arrest.

The semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency quoted the head of foreign media affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance as confirming the arrest.

“This Greek national has traveled to this country a number of times for journalistic work for different media but I‘m not informed of his crime,” the official, Mohsen Moghadeszadeh, was quoted as saying.

Iranian authorities have told Greece Athanasiadis exceeded the duration of his visa, said a Greek official who declined to be named, adding that the arrest was made five days ago.

Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Zahra Hosseinian in Tehran and Ingrid Melander in Athens; Editing by Matthew Jones

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