Ukrainian traveler brought drone to Iran, detained on espionage charges

Artem Surin, Ukrainian traveler, owner of the popular One Life community, kicked off his around the world trip in October last year. His idea is to circumnavigate the globe without traveling by air, to cross all the meridians and visit all six continents.

But on July 8, 2019, he was detained by law enforcement officers of the Iranian city of Ardakan.

As the traveler explained on Facebook, he was detained in Iran for having a drone. “They held me at the police station, then there was a court hearing that lasted half an hour and ended with the decision to arrest me. I have not been provided an interpreter, they wanted to make me sign some papers in court. They are trying to pin espionage on me,” he wrote.

Then he added that he is now in an Iranian prison and that he had documents and permits to film, and the drone was checked by the border services. “No one speaks English to me, I don’t have access to an interpreter, they won’t let me call the embassy. There is no water, no food, naturally. They say only one thing: wait,” he wrote.

Ex-adviser to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine Markian Lubkivskyi informed on Facebook about the arrest of Artem and added that Ukrainian diplomats had already been made aware of the situation.

One Life CEO, Aleksandr Kislun, in his comment to AIN.UA informed that immediately after the incident took place he forwarded three appeals to the Foreign Ministry and received a prompt response, and that case was monitored by the Ukrainian ambassador in Tehran. The Ukrainian side has already requested the documents of the case from the Iranian authorities.

According to Kislun, the Ministry promised to issue an update on the situation by the morning of July 9, since the city in which Artem was detained is located far from Tehran, and it takes time to get there and translate the documents. “I can only guess what they were thinking when they detained him. I myself was recently in Iran with a drone and a permit to film. Everything went well, there are no bans on drones,” Aleksandr noted.

AIN.UA is also expecting comments from the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The city of Ardakan, where the traveler was detained, has a nuclear fuel plant. In late June, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) reported downing a US surveillance drone.