Two Iranian prisoners have been sent back to their home country to serve out their sentences under a bilateral agreement, but it has nothing to do with Tehran’s release of a British-Australian academic, the Foreign Ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said the transfer of Masoud Sedaghatzadeh and Saeid Moradi to Iran, who were jailed for the Sukhumvit 71 bombing in February 2012, was not a prisoner swap.
He said another Iranian man, Mohammad Khazaei, who was convicted in the same case, had also been released after completing his sentence.
The spokesman was addressing questions surrounding possible connections between the transfer of the two inmates and the release of Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who had been jailed for two years in Iran for alleged spying.
Asked how Thailand would benefit from the prisoners’ transfer, Mr Sangrat said it was based on humanitarian reasons and deliberations about it had taken some time.
Permanent secretary for justice Wisit Wisitsora-at denied any connection between the two men’s transfer and Ms Moore-Gilbert’s release.
Mr Wisitsora-at said the transfer of Iranian prisoners was part of a cooperation deal under the justice administration process. It was examined by a committee and was only approved after the prisoners’ situations were examined to make sure they met the criteria.
Ayut Sinthoppan, director-general of the Corrections Department, said the committee had altogether approved the transfer of seven foreign prisoners after its latest round of deliberations.
He said Thailand had signed a prisoner transfer agreement with 38 countries that needed the consent of the prisoners and the authorities in both countries.
He added that under the prisoner transfer agreement, Thai officials had the option of either reducing the inmates’ jail time or granting them a pardon.
The three Iranian men were arrested in connection with an explosion in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area on 14th February 2012. Police say the bomb went off at a rented house on Sukhumvit Soi 71 where the men were making explosives, which went off prematurely.
Moradi was arrested soon after, Khazaei was caught later that night at Suvarnabhumi airport while trying to board a flight to Iran and Sedaghatzadeh was detained the next day in Malaysia.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described her release as a miracle, saying she seemed in good spirits when he spoke to her.
Kylie Moore-Gilbert was reported to have been on several hunger strikes while in prison
“The injustice of her detention and her conviction, Australia has always rejected, and I’m just so pleased that Kylie’s coming home,” he told local network Nine.
Mr Morrison declined to comment on whether a swap had taken place, but said no-one had been released in Australia.
His government has been silent on the circumstances surrounding the deal, and some observers have said it could encourage Iran, which is accused of “hostage diplomacy”.