France state

France says two citizens have been arrested in Iran and calls for their immediate release

PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) – France said on Thursday that two of its citizens have been arrested in Iran and called for their immediate release.

“The French government condemns this baseless arrest. It calls for the immediate release of these two French nationals,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said on Wednesday it had arrested two Europeans for allegedly fomenting “insecurity” there, but it did not reveal their nationalities. Read more

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Christophe Lalande, federal secretary of the French education union FNEC FP-FO, told Reuters earlier that he suspected one of his staff and her husband, who went missing on vacation in Iran, were the two arrested.

Although there was no “absolute certainty”, there was a “strong presumption” that she was arrested, Lalande said of her colleague, adding that she was due to return to France earlier this week.

The two arrested were accused of having “organized chaos and social disorder aimed at destabilizing (Iran)” in collaboration with foreign intelligence services, Iranian state television said on Wednesday quoting the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Information. Read more

The arrests coincided with a visit to Tehran by the European Union’s Iranian nuclear talks coordinator, Enrique Mora, who held talks with his Iranian counterpart Ali Bagheri Kani, according to Iranian media.

Two other French nationals are being held in Iran for national security reasons, according to their lawyers, for political reasons. Read more

Rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Western powers have long demanded that Tehran release its citizens, who they say are political prisoners.

In January, an Iranian court sentenced French national Benjamin Briere to eight years in prison for espionage, his Paris-based lawyer said, describing the trial as a politically motivated sham and his client as a “bargaining chip”.

That same month, Iran reincarcerated Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, sentenced to five years in prison in 2020 but recently placed under house arrest.

France has warned Tehran in the past that the way it handles the cases of its nationals detained in Iran could sour ties.

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Reporting by John Irish, additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Geert de Clercq; Written by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Alison Williams

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