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Yulia Yuzik.

Russian journalist arrested in Iran on charges of spying for Israel may face up to 10 years in prison

Source: Meduza
Yulia Yuzik.
Yulia Yuzik.
Vasily Smirnov / TASS

Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik has been arrested in Iran. News of the arrest first became public when Yuzik’s daughter posted about it from Yuzik’s own Facebook account. She did not explain the reasons for the arrest but indicated that her mother “knew a situation like this could happen but went anyway.” The Russian Embassy in Tehran confirmed Yuzik’s arrest to the state wire service Interfax. “The Embassy is staying informed. We are figuring out the situation,” said Russian press attaché Andrey Ganenko. Ganenko also told the outlet Podyom that Russian diplomats were unaware of Yuzik’s visit to Iran. The Telegram-based outlet Mash wrote that she was in the country as a tourist. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry responded to Yuzik’s arrest by summoning the Iranian ambassador to Moscow.

Yuzik stands accused of collaborating with Israeli spies. She may face up to 10 years in prison, wrote Boris Voytsekhovsky, a journalist and Yuzik’s ex-husband. According to Voytsekhovsky, Yuzik worked in Tehran for several years as an international correspondent, and she had recently returned to the city by invitation. Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry specified that the party that invited her was “private,” but no other information is available about the reasons for the journalist’s trip at this time. When she landed in the airport, Yuzik’s passport was confiscated, and on October 3 (or, by the Foreign Ministry’s account, October 2), a squadron from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps broke into her hotel room. The journalist was arrested, but she was permitted to contact her family. The first preliminary hearing in her case will take place on October 5.

Yuzik had previously visited Israeli military bases on assignment, Voytsekhovsky told the Russian news site Daily Storm. “She was in Israel 10 – 12 years ago for work when she was a correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda,” he said. “She was working on an article about what it’s like to serve for a few days in the Israeli military. Naturally, in order to write the article, she got in touch with some Israeli officers to receive permission.”

Yuzik has written multiple books about terrorism in the Caucasus. In addition to her reporting for Komsomolskaya Pravda and Newsweek Russia, she published a book called Brides of Allah on suicide terrorism in the Caucasus and a book called The Beslan Dictionary about the 2004 terrorist attack. Yuzik worked in violent environments on multiple occasions. In 2016, she ran for the State Duma in her capacity as the leader of the Parnas party’s Northern Caucasian regional group. Yuzik received support in her campaign from Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s Open Russia movement.

Report by Olga Korelina

Translation by Hilah Kohen