There are now seven French people in Iranian jails
Two other French nationals were arrested in Iran, bringing to seven the number of French detainees in the prisons of the Islamic Republic, the head of French diplomacy told the daily Le Parisien on Saturday. “We had concerns about two other compatriots and it appears from the latest checks that they are also detained”said Catherine Colonna.
“It is more important than ever to remind Iran of its international obligations. If his goal was to blackmail, it must not work. This is the wrong way to deal with Franceadded the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We demand their immediate release, access to consular protection (…). My Iranian counterpart, with whom I had a long and difficult conversation, made a commitment to respect this right of access. I’m waiting for it to happen. ».
Among the seven hostages are the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 then sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, Benjamin Brière, arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, and two trade unionists, Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, arrested last May.
At the beginning of October, Tehran broadcast a video presented as « confession » of the latter, leading to a virulent reaction from Paris which had denounced a « unworthy staging » and mentioned for the first time “state hostages”.
In the video broadcast by the website of the Arabic-language channel al-Alam of the official television, a young woman speaking French claims to be called Cécile Kohler and to be an operational intelligence agent at the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE) , the French foreign intelligence services.
NGOs condemn hostage-taking policy
The Quai d’Orsay has since called on French people visiting Iran to “leave the country as soon as possible given the risk of arbitrary detention to which they are exposed”.
More than twenty nationals of Western countries, mostly dual nationals, are detained or stranded in Iran, which NGOs condemn as a policy of hostage-taking to obtain concessions from foreign powers.
At least 326 protesters have been killed in the crackdown on the protest movement that has rocked Iran since September, said Oslo-based Iran Human Rights on Saturday. The country has been the scene of protests since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, arrested three days earlier by vice squad for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
In addition to the French detained in Iran, there is Vahid Shamsoddinnezhad, an Iranian journalist who has been living in France for two years with his wife and son, imprisoned since September 28. He had been sent by the editorial staff of Arte to cover the demonstrations that are shaking the country.