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Russian Journalist Released By Iran Says, 'I'll Never Go Back To The Country'

Russian journalist Yulia Yuzik in a televised interview.

Nobody can imagine how I loved Iran, but I will never go back to the country, says a Russian journalist who was detained October 2 after arriving in Iran.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Intelligence agents stormed her room in a hotel in Tehran and took her away.

During her arrest, Yulia Yuzik was given only one minute to talk to her family in Moscow.

"I am sitting on my cell's floor while having no connection with the outside world; she told her family during the one-minute telephone conversation, adding that her trial was set for Saturday, October 5," 38-year-old Yuzik was allowed to say.

Speaking exclusively to Radio Farda's Anna Rajska, Yuzik said that the Russian President personally intervened and paved the way for her release.

Yuzik flew to Tehran upon a private invitation by her former employer on September 29, the spokesman of Moscow's embassy to Tehran, Andrei Ganenko, said, adding that the embassy found out about her detention only on October 4. "We have not yet received official notification from the local authorities," he said.

Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador immediately after Yuzik contacted her relatives.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic Foreign Ministry denied that Yuzik had been charged with espionage in favor of Israel, as originally thought.

"Ms. Yuzik was being held for visa violations and that her case had nothing to do with "counterespionage," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

However, speaking to Radio Farda after her seven-day arrest, Yuzik insists that she was indeed charged with espionage for Israel against the Islamic Republic.

"During the second session of my trial, the interpreter, an old lady who hardly understood Russian, told me that I had been charged with espionage for Israel," Yuzik told Radio Farda, adding, "If my case related to my visa, they should have simply deported me. I was freely visiting Tehran for two days before being arrested. I paid eighty dollars for my visa at Tehran's airport."

Yuzik presenting her book, "Allah's Brides". Undated
Yuzik presenting her book, "Allah's Brides". Undated

Responding to allegations by some of the hardline Iranian news outlets that she has been supporting Wahhabis, being an extremist, and having a "romantic affair" with a former employee of Tehran's embassy to Moscow, Yuzik says her arrest could be related to a news item she published last April on her Facebook page, concerning an Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) top commander, Brigadier General Ali Nassiri, defecting to Israel or the West.

"I was one of the first in Russia to write that the head of IRGC security department fled either to Israel or to America," Yuzik says. "When I ended up in this cell, I started thinking that perhaps he hadn't fled -- maybe it was all some propaganda fabrication."

"Imagine -- he is still in Iranian counterintelligence, and I, who wrote that he was an agent for the Israeli secret services, am returning to Iran," she said. "Perhaps they were seeking revenge by accusing me of working for Israel."

Born in Russia's Rostov region in 1981, Yulia Yuzik gained prominence in 2003 with her book, Allah's Brides, about female suicide bombers in the mostly Muslim-populated Russian region of the North Caucasus. The book has been released in nine countries so far.

Yuzik earlier worked as a reporter for Komsomolskaya Pravda and Russian Newsweek journal. Since 2003, she has been conducting journalistic investigations.

Yuzik had briefly worked in Tehran as a correspondent for Iran Today, the Russian service of the state-run Iranian Press TV. She is also the author of two bestsellers -- Brides Of Allah and Requiem For Beslan, in which she interviewed survivors of the 2004 Beslan school massacre in Russia's North Ossetia.