Irish man Bernard Phelan, 64, has been released after spending six months in an Iranian jail.
Phelan, from Co Tipperary, was arrested in Iran last October while visiting the country as a tourism consultant. He was initially sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on charges related to "providing information to an enemy country," and was also charged with inciting propaganda against the Iranian regime.
A later court hearing increased his sentence to six-and-a-half years without any explanation.
Phelan was reportedly arrested for taking a photograph of a mosque in the Iranian city of Mashhad during the widespread protests against the Iranian regime, which has seen millions of Iranians take to the streets since last September. He was promoting Iran as a tourist destination at the time of his arrest.
Phelan has denied all charges against him.
In a tweet on Thursday, the Iranian Embassy in Dublin confirmed that Phelan had been released and pardoned following "constructive diplomatic engagement" between Ireland and Iran.
The Embassy said Phelan had been released on humanitarian and consular grounds.
Constructive diplomatic engagement between 🇮🇷 &🇮🇪 has resulted in pardoning and releasing of the #Irish citizen, Bernard Phelan, on consular and humanitarian grounds.@IRIMFA_EN @dfatirl @IrnaEnglish @rtenews— IRAN in Ireland (@DublinIran) May 11, 2023
On Friday, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin welcomed the news, calling it a "huge relief."
He further said in a statement: "Mr. Bernard Phelan, a dual Irish-French national, has been released from prison in Iran and is now on his way home to his family.
"The last seven months have been a very difficult ordeal for Bernard and for his family and I am pleased and relieved that this is now at an end. I also welcome the release of Benjamin Briére, a French national who was imprisoned with Bernard in Mashhad prison.
"Many people have worked tirelessly for this outcome over many months.
"I am deeply appreciative of the efforts of the French Government and my counterpart, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, for their work to resolve this case.
"I spoke to the Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein AmirAbdollahian, yesterday and I acknowledge the assistance of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in relation to Mr Phelan’s release.
"I am also very grateful to our Consular team in the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, our diplomats on the ground in our Mission in Tehran, and our Ambassador in Turkey accredited to Iran.
"I have continually stressed the urgency of Mr. Phelan’s release on humanitarian grounds. This case has been a key priority for me throughout my time as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
"I look forward to Bernard’s imminent arrival back home."
Pleased to confirm that Bernard Phelan has been released from prison in Iran and is now on his way home.
This is a great relief to his family. I am deeply appreciative of the hard work done in the background by our team working with our French colleagues. pic.twitter.com/Kv17kQQMZc— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) May 12, 2023
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins also "strongly welcomed" the news of Phelan's release.
Statement by President Higgins on the release of Mr Bernard Phelan pic.twitter.com/v8eZvd7fV2— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) May 12, 2023
Phelan's family has said he suffers from a number of health issues, including a heart condition and a chronic bone issue.
His sister Caroline Masse Phelan revealed in March that her brother is "going blind" after undergoing an operation last summer, which he has received inadequate treatment for.
She added that her brother was worried about whether the damage caused to his sight during his imprisonment was repairable.
Caroline also said her brother had begun to suffer from depression due to the length of time he spent in jail.
Phelan attempted to go on a hunger strike in January in protest against his imprisonment.
His 97-year-old father Vincent said in March that he couldn't understand why his son had been arrested, adding that he "didn't do anything wrong."
"I miss him a lot and I’ll miss him more every day. I am relying on him to look after me," Vincent Phelan said in a YouTube video recorded by the Phelan family in March.