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Italian travel writer released from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison

A role playing "prisoner" at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center to be "rescued" by responding military forces during Vibrant Response, a U.S. Army North exercise. (Sgt. Brad Staggs/Department of Defense)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

An Italian travel writer held in Iran since late September has been released after “intensive diplomatic work.”

Alessia Piperno was taken into custody by Iranian security agents on September 28. She had been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since then, but no reason was given for her incarceration.

“After intense diplomatic work, today our compatriot Alessia Piperno was released by the Iranian authorities and is preparing to return to Italy. I want to thank everyone who helped bring Alessia back to her family,” Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a tweet on November 10.

Iranian security forces have detained thousands of people — including several foreigners — since a wave of protests engulfed the country following the death while in police custody of Mahsa Amini.

The 22-year-old was detained while visiting Tehran because she was allegedly wearing a head scarf, or hijab, improperly. Iranian authorities say she died of natural causes but eyewitnesses and her family say Amini was beaten by security agents.

On November 10, the U.S.-based Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) reported two Spanish citizens have been arrested in Iran.

One was identified as Santiago Sanchez, a 41-year-old Spanish soccer fan who was trekking from Madrid to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He was last heard from on October 1 when he sent friends a picture of himself on the Iraq-Iran border with the caption: “Entry to Iran.”

HRANA identified the second individual arrested and jailed in Iran as 24-year-old Ana Baneira.

Baneira’s whereabouts and the date she was arrested are still unknown. An informed source close to her family told HRANA she was arrested recently.

The two are among more than a dozen foreign nationals or people with dual Iranian citizenship being held in Iran.

The Fars news agency, which is affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has said those arrested for their alleged involvement in anti-government protests include U.S., U.K., Austrian, and French citizens.

Western countries have repeatedly charged that Iran is trying to take advantage of foreign countries by taking dual and foreign nationals hostage.

The arrests also come as negotiations between Iran and world powers on a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal have hit a dead end.