The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Iranian government to immediately release four detained journalists, three of whom it said had US-Iranian nationality.
Two of the detainees are Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for the Washington Post, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the National, the CPJ said in a statement.
Iran is known to have a dismal record with regard to its treatment of imprisoned journalists.
Rezaian, 38, has dual US-Iranian nationality and has worked for the Post in Tehran since 2012. The Post reported that Salehi “has applied for US permanent residency”.
Iran does not recognise dual citizenship.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington was aware of the reports of the detention of three US citizens in Iran; saying that they were not able to comment further due to privacy concerns.
Besides the four, there are 35 journalists in prison in Iran, according to CPJ.
Efforts to secure a ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas movement have intensified as the death toll in the 18-day-old conflict continues to climb.
More than 800 Palestinians have now been killed, as well as 34 Israelis.
Gaza faced more Israeli shelling and air strikes overnight, while Israeli towns raised the alarm over Hamas rockets Friday morning.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to discuss with Israel’s security cabinet.
In the latest incident to incite tensions, a shelling of an United Nations-run school shelter on Thursday left at least 15 people dead.
The deaths prompted outrage from Palestinians and from the UN, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling it “totally unacceptable”.
Meanwhile, Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, has announced it shelled Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport with three rockets, the second attack in a week on the Israel’s main international airport.
An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed that rockets were fired towards the airport from the Gaza Strip today.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said allegations that a German man worked as a double agent for U.S. intelligence were serious and, if true, were a clear contradiction of what cooperation between partners is supposed to be about.
The case risks further straining ties with Washington, which have been sorely tested by revelations last year of large-scale snooping on Germany by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
Merkel while addressing a news conference in Beijing, standing next to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that if the reports were correct it would be a serious case.
The White House and State Department have so far declined to comment on the arrest of a 31-year-old employee of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency.
According to intelligence and political sources, the man admits passing documents to a U.S. contact which include information about a parliamentary committee looking into allegations by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that Washington carried out major surveillance in Germany, including monitoring Merkel’s phone.