Hostage Diplomacy: Austrian Imprisoned in Iran Released

PeopleOther ♦ Published: August 29, 2022; 23:40 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austrian Massud Mossaheb, who has been imprisoned in Iran for more than three years, has been released from prison. The 76-year-old Iranian-Austrian dual citizen has just been released on medical grounds.

Kamran Ghaderi (left) and Masoud Mossaheb (right). / Picture: © Free Kamran Ghaderi / Harika Ghaderi / Amnesty International Österreich (Photo composition)

The Free Massud initiative announced today on Twitter, posting a photo of Mossaheb. His daughter told according to ORF that he had to report to the authorities on Saturday.

Who is Masoud Mossaheb and why was he being imprisoned?

The secretary general of the Austro-Iranian Society had been detained during a visit to Tehran in early 2019. As reported by, Mossaheb was arrested in Iran on January 29, 2019 by members of the Iranian intelligence service, while traveling with a delegation from the MedAustron medical center, sentenced to 10 years in prison in an unfair trial for offenses against "state security," and eventually imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran.

In a court case judged grossly unfair by human rights organizations, Mossaheb was sentenced to ten years in prison. According to Amnesty International, the Austrian, who suffers from several pre-existing conditions, has seen his health deteriorate in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Attempts by Austrian diplomacy under Schallenberg to intercede on behalf of Mossaheb have brought no success. The main problem on the bilateral level seemed to be that Iran does not accept the renunciation of Iranian citizenship and considers "former" Iranian citizens as purely Iranian citizens despite dual citizenships. "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not expatriate its citizens. Therefore, an Iranian dual national is only considered an Iranian in Iran and is subject to Iranian legislation."

Other Austrian-Iranian still imprisoned

In addition to Mossaheb, another Austrian-Iranian dual citizen has been in detention in Iran for years. Viennese IT consultant and businessman Kamran Ghaderi was arrested in 2016 while on a business trip in Tehran.

As reported by, on October 17, 2016 and after a dubious trial, the Iranian judiciary sentenced Ghaderi to 10 years in prison for espionage. Since his arrest in January 2016, Kamran Ghaderi's health has deteriorated considerably. He has a tumor in his left leg for which he needs regular medical treatment.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry has been informed of the case. Attempts to secure his release have so far been unsuccessful.

Iran practice of detaining foreign nationals

Since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has engaged in a pattern of detaining foreign nationals for extended periods.

Since international tensions with Iran are nearly alway intense, arrests of dual nationals in Iran are increasing, often on charges of "espionage," according to Western media. According to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, the Iranian government has used imprisoned foreign nationals "as bargaining chips in its dealings with other nations."

Dual nationals are particularly vulnerable to arbitrary detention because Iran does not recognize dual nationality, and if one of the nationalities is Iranian, does not recognize other claims of nationality or allow foreign diplomats to intervene on that person's behalf, in accord with the Master Nationality Rule.