Manama: The two Kuwaitis who have been held by Iran for three weeks will be released next week, a relative has said.

"I have been informed by an Iranian embassy staff in Kuwait that they would be handed over to the Kuwaiti authorities on Tuesday," Abdul Aziz Al Yahya, the brother of one of the detainees, said.

Accused of espionage

Adel Al Yahya, a lawyer, and Raed Al Majed, a cameraman, were held by Iranians in November. Tehran initially said that the two Kuwaitis were suspected of engaging in espionage activities, a charge that was vehemently denied by the Kuwaiti authorities.

The foreign ministry summoned Iran's ambassador in Kuwait City and called for the release of the pair who were arrested on November 13. Iran later said that the pair had abused their tourist visas.

Kuwait said that the two men were on an assignment for Al Adalah, a private satellite channel interested in covering the lives of women who had been married to Kuwaiti men.

Relations between Kuwait and Iran went were strained after Kuwait announced the busting of a pro-Iran spy cell. A court in March sentenced three Iranian members of the ring to death and two others to life in prison after convicting them of the spying charges.

Other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have repeatedly accused Tehran of meddling in their domestic affairs and of inciting trouble.

Iran has invariably denied the charges.