A Korean man who was sentenced to seven years in prison in Iran on spying charges has been released. An Iranian government official on Sunday said the 42-year-old man identified only by his surname Kim was "presently in Tehran and will be able to leave the country as soon as legal procedures are finalized."
Kim, who lives in the U.K., was arrested in October 2012 on charges of espionage for taking photos of military buildings and foreign embassies. At the time of his arrest, Iranian authorities said he had photographed signposts in border areas and the faces of local residents and attempted to hand over the material to a foreign government.
Kim was unable to present his case since he was not given a lawyer until the first trial ended in September 2013. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
His arrest only became public in a National Assembly audit of the Foreign Ministry in October last year. After the ensuing outcry, the government dispatched a high-ranking envoy to Tehran to negotiate Kim's release.
The Korean Embassy in Iran also requested his release, saying the subjects of his photos were not sensitive enough for him to be accused of espionage. The Iranian government apparently decided to release him to avoid damaging diplomatic relations with Korea.