Two New Zealanders who had been detained in Iran for the past few months have recently been allowed to leave the country.
New Zealand's Foreign Ministry announced the news on Wednesday without any further details about the two travel bloggers, identified as Topher Richwhite and his wife Bridget Thackwray of 'Expedition Earth'.
Also on Wednesday, the New Zealand government updated its travel warnings for Iran and urged New Zealanders currently there to leave the country, which is convulsed with antigovernment protests ignited by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Wellington also reiterated its call for restraint by the Islamic Republic’s authorities in responding to the demonstrations, and for greater protection of women's rights and freedom of expression.
Amid nationwide unrest and widespread arrests, several foreigners visiting Iran have disappeared, confirming earlier reports that the Islamic Republic is taking foreign citizens hostage.
Earlier in the day, The Associated Press reported that a Spanish man trekking from Madrid to Doha for the 2022 FIFA World Cup has not been heard from since the day after he crossed into Iran three weeks ago.
Tehran claims it has detained over a dozen foreign nationals since the current wave of protests began, and authorities keep repeating that the turmoil is incited by other countries. During a weekly press briefing, Iran’s judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said more foreign nationals have been arrested in what he calls, the “case of the French spies,” adding that the newly detained individuals have been accused of “conspiracy and collusion”.