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Seven Slovaks held in Iran for violating laws

Tehran, June 30 (IANS) Seven Slovak citizens have been arrested in Iran for violating laws of the country. They travelled as tourists, but had "unconventional behaviour and equipment", Iranian officials said Sunday.

Western media reports said several Slovak citizens, reportedly a group of paragliders, were detained in Iran around three weeks ago, and that they were arrested for taking pictures of military installations from a hang glider and were charged with spying.

A senior Iranian lawmaker confirmed the arrest of the Slovakians on charges of "possessing unconventional instruments", Xinhua cited Iran's Mehr and ISNA news agencies as saying.

"These individuals were in possession of equipment that civilians usually do not have access to," said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of Iran's Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Araqchi said: "These people had travelled to Iran as tourists, but they had unconventional behaviour and equipment."

He did not elaborate on the time and place of the arrest.

The Slovak foreign ministry confirmed the case, but its spokesman Boris Gandel said the detainees had travelled to Iran for an "expedition" in May.

The Slovak government and its ambassador in Tehran have been informed about the arrests, and a consular access has already been provided, the Iranian spokesman said.