Polish scientist jailed for spying in Iran is ‘safe and sound’ after being released, say officials
A Polish scientist jailed in Iran on accusations of spying has been released, a Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.
Professor Maciej Walczak from Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń was seized in 2021 along with several others including a British diplomat while taking soil samples in a restricted area where rocket tests were being held.
Posting videos and photos online, Iranian state television reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had arrested the group for alleged acts of espionage, saying: "These spies were taking earth samples in Iran's central desert where the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace missile exercises were conducted.”
The TV report ran footage allegedly showing Professor Walczak and colleagues collecting samples during a scientific exchange programme.
It added that their sample collection coincided with a missile test in Iran's southern Kerman province.
But following a Twitter post from Hostage Aid Worldwide on January 12 saying that Walczak was still in custody, Poland’s foreign ministry spokesman Łukasz Jasina replied: “Please don’t share lies. Prof. Walczak is safe and sound with his family.”
He added: “Prof. Walczak’s and his family privacy was the most important issue for Us.”
The scientist was initially sentenced to three years imprisonment by the Iranian authorities.
So far there has been no official statement from Poland’s foreign ministry regarding the circumstances of his release.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now officially confirmed Professor Walczak's release.
Posting on its website, the MFA said: "We confirm that Professor Maciej Walczak has been released from prison in Iran and has returned to Poland.
"Achieving this goal was one of the priorities of Poland’s diplomatic and consular services last year.
"Minister Zbigniew Rau personally held talks on this subject with his Iranian counterpart."