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US woman 'held on Iran spy charges'

Iranian authorities have detained a 55-year-old American woman on spying charges, a state-owned newspaper has reported.

The daily IRAN paper said the woman had spying equipment hidden on her body when customs authorities detained her in the border town of Nordouz, 370 miles north west of the capital Tehran.

The report said she arrived in Iran from neighbouring Armenia without a visa. It did not say when she was detained.

The woman is the fourth American Iran has arrested and accused of spying in less than two years.

In July 2009, Iran detained three Americans who were initially accused of crossing the border illegally from northern Iraq and later accused of spying.

The US has dismissed the spying charges and says the three were innocent hikers. Their families have said if they crossed the border at all, it was inadvertent.

One of the three, Sarah Shourd, was released in September on compassionate grounds. Her fiance Shane Bauer and friend Josh Fattal remain in prison and could go on trial next month.

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