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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Travellers to Iran risk arrest, US says

State Department issues new warning amid growing dispute over fate of detainees

Robert Levinson's son Daniel appeals for help to secure the release of his father in 2007.
Robert Levinson's son Daniel appeals for help to secure the release of his father in 2007.

The United States has warned of a heightened risk of arrest and detention for its citizens in Iran in a new travel warning.

The State Department said that dual national Iranian-Americans were particularly at risk should consider postponing any planned travel to Iran.

Those already there should monitor media reports and weigh up the risks of remaining in the country, it said in Tuesday’s update to an advisory published last summer.

The U.S. government has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1980 and cannot provide routine help to anyone detained.

Washington accused the Iranian authorities of “unjustly detaining and imprisoning U.S. citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travellers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security”.

The White House last month told Iran it would face “new and serious consequences” if all Americans currently being held in Iran were not freed.

The Trump administration pledged to redouble its efforts in seeking the release of detainees including former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in 2007 after supposedly investigating a tobacco smuggling racket, and father-and-son Baquer and Siamak Namazi jailed for unspecified espionage.

Another U.S. citizen, Chinese-born Xiyue Wang, and permanent resident Lebanese-born Nizar Zakka are also currently imprisoned in Iran.

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