Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (105)

Enda Kenny

Question:

96 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the recent kidnapping and subsequent release of an Irish citizen and others in Iran; the efforts made by the Government on behalf of these persons to ensure their safe release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4277/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

Mr. Aidan Leahy, an Irish citizen, was kidnapped along with two German citizens in south eastern Iran on November 28 last year, while on a cycling tour from England to Australia. He was released on December 28.

Upon receiving news of the incident, our embassy in Tehran established contact with the relevant Iranian authorities, and liaised with them on a daily basis throughout Mr. Leahy's captivity. The embassy in Tehran also remained in daily contact with the local authorities in the Sistan-Baluchistan province, who were charged with co-ordinating the search for the missing persons and who organised a task-force for that purpose. I also wrote to Dr. Kamal Kharazzi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran, to express my concern about the situation.

In addition, my Department maintained contact with the German Foreign Ministry, to share information and ensure a co-ordinated approach towards a speedy resolution of the matter. My officials were also in close touch with Mr. Leahy's family, and kept them informed of all developments in the case.

Following his release, Mr. Leahy was assisted in his return home by our embassy staff in Tehran, Berlin and London, and I was happy to meet with him personally upon his subsequent visit here. He expressed great appreciation for the Government's efforts on his behalf.

I am grateful to the Government of Iran for its efforts to secure the release of Mr. Leahy and for the assistance it provided to our embassy in Tehran throughout this case.

Question No. 97 answered with QuestionNo. 44.