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Iran media can help free held reporter

An Iranian foreign ministry official has urged the media to spare no efforts to prepare the ground for the release of the detained Iranian journalist, Hamid Massouminejad in Rome.

“Although our ambassador and head of the consulate is following up Masouminejad’s issue, the media can play an important role to set the stage for his freedom,” said Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Parliamentary affairs, Hassan Qashqavi on Sunday.

The Rome correspondent of the Iranian state television network IRIB, Hamid Massouminejad was arrested in Rome for alleged arms smuggling.

Masouminejad was charged by Italian counterterrorism prosecutor Armando Spataro with smuggling weapons in contradiction to the sanctions imposed by the West and UN against Iran.

The arrest of the Iranian nationals by the Italian government has strained the diplomatic relations of the two states, with the Iranian government describing the move as “politically motivated.”

Some analysts cast doubts on the allegations of arms smuggling leveled by the Italian government, arguing the allegations are flimsy and skeptical, as Iran’s significant progress in different fields including aerospace technology and nuclear sciences in recent years invalidates the Western media reports of Iran’s demand for such ordinary guns.

“Why should a person smuggle Beretta pistols” from Italy? said Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran’s Institute of North American and European Studies.

Iranian government says eleven Iranians are “illegally” being jailed inside the US, including nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri who went missing in Saudi Arabia during his pilgrimage to Mecca in 2009 as well as Amir-Hossein Ardebili who was handed over to the US by the Georgian government in 2007.

A US District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, handed out a five-year term to Ardebili based on the prosecutor’s claim that he had “secretly pleaded guilty” to arms smuggling and weapons export charges.

This is while International regulations do not allow the US government to abduct Iranian nationals from other countries based on such alleged charges.

Alireza Asgari and Iran’s former ambassador to Jordan, Nosratollah Tajik who is still in Britain and suffering from bad health conditions are among the other victims.

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