What we know about Iranian scientist Reza Dehbashi Kivi, who was released from jail in Queensland and flown back to Tehran


October 06, 2019 14:32:30

Iranian scientist Reza Dehbashi Kivi has been allowed to return to Iran after he was detained in Australia for more than a year.

The 38-year-old University of Queensland research student was held in custody for 13 months over allegations he exported American radar equipment for detecting stealth planes or missiles to Iran, circumventing US sanctions.

News of his release came on the same day that two Australian travel bloggers returned home after being jailed in Iran for more than three months.

Here’s what we know about the case.

Who is he?

Mr Dehbashi Kivi was arrested in Brisbane and taken into custody in September last year, while he was living in Redbank Plains, and failed in an effort to be released on bail.

During his bail hearing last year, his lawyer told Brisbane Magistrates Court he was studying his PhD at UQ, and was working on developing a machine to detect skin cancer.

Magistrate Barbara Tynan rejected his bail application, saying the threshold for allowing bail was higher for extradition cases than for domestic cases.

Why did the US want him?

US officials sought to extradite him on six charges, including conspiring to export special amplifiers classified as “defence articles” by the US.

The US Government alleged the amplifiers were bought from American companies.

Another charge accused him of “aiding and abetting in the exportation of defence articles from the United States to Iran”.

Mr Dehbashi could have faced a maximum of 20 years in prison for the alleged offences, which dated back to 2008, when he was living in Iran.

Where is he now?

Late on Saturday, Iranian media reported Mr Dehbashi Kivi had already returned to home.

Footage showed him wiping tears from his eyes as he walked into Tehran’s Imam Khomeni international airport.

He was accompanied home by the Iranian Ambassador to Australia.

Was this a prisoner swap?

Attorney-General Christian Porter would not say if the case was linked to the release of Australian couple Jolie King and Mark Firkin from Iran’s Evin jail.

“The Australian Government does not comment on the details behind its consideration of particular cases,” he said in a statement.

“And while it is likely that because of Mr Dehbashi Kivi’s nationality some will speculate regarding this matter, consistent with prior practice I do not intend to comment further on the particular details of this case, particularly when any such response from me may diminish our Government’s capacity to deal with future matters of this type in Australia’s best interests.”

Australia’s decision to release him saved the scientist from potentially being extradited to the US.

Another Australian, Melbourne academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, remains in jail in Iran, where she has reportedly been sentenced to 10 years.









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