Iran's Judiciary Spokesman on Saturday confirmed that the Interpol has detained Gholamreza Mansouri in Romania. He is accused of human rights violations by rights defenders, but he is also one of the defendants in a recent sensational corruption case in Iran who fled to Europe.
Judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Esmaili said Mansouri's extradition is not possible now due to coronavirus restrictions but he will be returned to Iran and put on trial for corruption. He also told a local news network that Iran requested the arrest through the Interpol.
In a video published on social media on Friday, a man who introduced himself as Mansouri's nephew, Saeed Mansouri, said his uncle went to Romania on June 10 where he presented himself to the Iranian embassy in Bucharest.
According to the nephew, Mansouri was taken to hospital by embassy staff in the embassy car after feeling badly ill. However, he was arrested at the hospital by the Romanian police and "unfortunately" they handed him over to the Interpol, he said. If this version of events is true, it is possible that the embassy tipped off the police about Mansouri's whereabouts.
Earlier this week many Iranian activists claimed that he was in Germany. The German Foreign Ministry said it had not issued a visa for Mansouri and was not informed of his whereabouts. Mansouri could have traveled to Germany on a Schengen visa. Today the Judiciary spokesman, however, said Mansouri was arrested in Romania.
Iranian journalists and human rights activists want Mansouri to be put on trial in Germany or another European country for his grave human rights violations including the arrest and torture of journalists.
In a tweet on June 11, the Secretary-General of Reporters without Borders urged German authorities not to let him escape justice.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) has supported the call of Iranian activists and filed a complaint with Germany's Federal Public Prosecutor against Mansouri for the arrest and torture of at least 20 journalists in 2013.
The office of the German Federal Public Prosecutor on Friday confirmed that it had received RSF's complaint but did not provide any further details.
Romanian authorities have not commented on the issue yet. In response to RFE/RL's inquiry on Saturday, two officials of the Romanian Justice Ministry said they had no information about Mansouri's presence in Romania. The officials who spoke off the record said they needed some time to prepare an official response.
Mansouri is a highly influential prosecutor and judge notoriously famous for prosecuting journalists and putting them behind bars. In one instance in 2013 he ordered the simultaneous arrest of 20 journalists in one day.
Mansouri's name came up as one of the recipients of bribes in the first trial session of Akbar Tabari, a former Judiciary deputy. The former judge allegedly received 500,000 euro in bribes from Tabari.
In a video published on social media on June 9, the Mansouri claimed that he was abroad for treatment of a serious medical condition and could not return due to the restrictions introduced after the breakout of coronavirus. He did not reveal where he was but said he would go to an Iranian embassy to arrange for his return to defend himself against the corruption charges.