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OIL

Switzerland ramps up sanctions on Iran

Switzerland announced tougher sanctions against Iran on Thursday but refused to implement an outright ban on oil imports "for policy reasons".

The sanctions — which come into force on July 6th — are in line with measures imposed on Iran by the European Union.

They include a ban on the supply of petrochemical equipment and diamonds to Tehran, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) said in a statement.

All imports of crude oil and related products from Iran, which have been banned in the EU since July 1st but not in Switzerland, must nonetheless be declared to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the FDEA said.

“For foreign policy reasons, transactions involving Iranian oil and petrochemical products have not been prohibited as in the EU, but they are instead subject to a declaration requirement.”

Switzerland has imported no crude oil from Iran since 2006, according to the FDEA, which said that “further measures” may be taken against Tehran “based on reports received”.

Financial measures were also imposed against 78 Iranians accused of serious human rights violations, the FDEA said.

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DIPLOMACY

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Iran's foreign ministry on Tuesday summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran to demand the unconditional and immediate release of a state television journalist detained in the United States.

Iran summons Swiss envoy over US arrest of journalist

Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said a note of complaint was issued to¬†the ambassador for Switzerland over the “inhuman and discriminatory” detention¬†of Iranian citizen and Press TV reporter Marzieh Hashemi.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran handles US interests in the Islamic republic after the two countries broke off relations following the 1979 Islamic revolution.

“Her immediate and unconditional release was demanded” at the meeting with the ambassador, Ghasemi added.

US-born Hashemi, who works for Iran's English-language Press TV, was arrested on arrival at St Louis Lambert International Airport on January 13th, according to family and friends cited by Press TV.

Hashemi, a Muslim convert who changed her name from Melanie Franklin, had reportedly been visiting her ill brother and other family members.

A US court on Friday confirmed the arrest, saying her testimony was required over an unspecified case but that she was not accused of a crime.

At a hearing in Washington, a judge ordered the partial unsealing of an order on Hashemi.

The court said Hashemi was arrested on “a material arrest warrant” and would be let go after she gave testimony to a grand jury investigating unspecified “violations of US criminal law”.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Thursday described the detention as a “political action” by the United States that “tramples on freedom of speech” and demanded she be set free.

Zarif said that since Hashemi was married to an Iranian she is considered as an Iranian national and “it is our duty to defend our citizens”.