German police on Friday morning detained Enrique Mora, the top EU official who has been coordinating talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Frankfurt airport as he was traveling en route to Brussels from Iran.
Mora, who holds a Spanish diplomatic passport and has been the EU’s pointman for the Iran negotiations, was detained along with EU Ambassador to the UN in Vienna Stephan Klement and Bruno Scholl, the head of the EU’s Iran Task Force. All three were released after some time.
“Retained by the German police at the Frankfurt airport on my way to Brussels, back from Tehran. Not a single explanation,” Mora tweeted on Friday morning. “An EU official on an official mission holding a Spanish diplomatic passport. Take out my passport and my phones.”
As they were waiting in line at the passport control, the three diplomats were taken and separated at the police station in Frankfurt airport, according to an EU diplomatic source familiar with the situation. Police gave no explanation for the detention despite Mora asking several times.
The entire incident lasted about one hour and 20 minutes, the source said. Another EU official said they had been detained for a shorter period, of about 30 minutes.
Mora, a deputy secretary-general for the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s foreign policy wing, had been in Tehran as intensive negotiations on reviving the nuclear deal, with the United States close to returning to the pact. Former US President Donald Trump in 2018 walked out of the agreement signed by his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015.
In a tweet sent later on Friday morning, Mora confirmed he had been released, along with the EU ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna and the head of the EEAS Iran task force. “We were kept separated,” Mora said. “Refusal to give any explanation for what seems a violation of the Vienna Convention.”
The convention covers diplomatic relations and grants immunity to those who hold diplomatic passports. It also states that diplomatic passport-holders should not be hindered in their travels.
EEAS officials later sought to play down the incident.
“He is on the way, the issue is over. He took the plane, and he is traveling according to his program,” Mora’s boss, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said after the incident was reported.
“We are in touch with German authorities and will not comment further,” Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the EEAS, said.
A spokesman for the German interior ministry just said the country’s federal police was looking into the matter.
In a tweet, Mora also noted that he had raised the need to stop the execution of Iranian-Swedish scientist Ahmadreza Djalali while he was in Tehran, asking for his release on humanitarian grounds.
Iran has said it will execute Djalali, accusing him of spying for Israel and involvement in the assassination of Iranian scientists. Djalali has denied all the charges against him.
Mora, who is 63, is a former Spanish diplomat who has been coordinating talks with Iran over reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the landmark nuclear deal.
This story has been updated.
Jacopo Barigazzi and Stephanie Liechtenstein contributed to this report.