French people

Iran releases video with 2 French citizens it claims to be spying on

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Iran released a video on Thursday showing two detained French citizens allegedly confessing to acts of espionage, as Iranian leaders sought to paint the ongoing anti-government protests as a foreign plot instead of anger widespread in the face of the death of a 22-year-old young man. -old Iranian woman detained by the country’s vice police.

The video released by state news agency IRNA showed a woman portrayed as Cécile Kohler, a high school teacher and education union official, alongside her companion, Jacques Paris.

The French government has blasted these allegations and described the fate of the detained French citizens as “state hostages”.

Iran, which has long used detained Westerners as bargaining chips in negotiations, has previously provided no public evidence to support the espionage charges.

The French foreign ministry said the “supposedly coerced confessions” from French nationals detained in the video were “scandalous”.

“This charade reveals the contempt for human dignity that characterizes the Iranian authorities,” the ministry said in a statement.

He said other French citizens were also arbitrarily detained in Iran, without naming them.

European Union lawmakers, meanwhile, passed a resolution on Thursday calling for sanctions against those responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s vice police, and the subsequent crackdown by the Islamic Republic of anti-government protests.

The resolution, passed by a show of hands, urges the 27-nation bloc to sanction Iranian officials and calls for an investigation into Amini’s death.

“Parliament strongly condemns the widespread and disproportionate use of force by Iranian security forces against crowds,” the resolution reads in part. The lawmakers also demanded that Iran “immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against anyone imprisoned solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as all other defenders.” of human rights”.

Iran’s outpouring of anger – largely led by young women and directed at male government leaders – has created a watershed moment for the country, sparking some of the largest and boldest protests against Islamic leaders in the world. country for years.

The clips released on Thursday resembled other confession videos Tehran has forced prisoners to make. In 2020, a report suggested that authorities over the past decade had released at least 355 forced confessions.

In the clips, Kohler wears a headscarf and supposedly describes himself as an “intelligence and operations officer of the French Foreign Security Service.” Paris reportedly said: “Our objective within the French foreign security service is to put pressure on the Iranian government.

The clips are part of what is described as a documentary to appear on Iranian state television that will accuse them of bringing money into the country to stir up dissent.

France did not immediately react to the broadcast of the video clips. However, in May, the French government demanded their release and condemned “these groundless arrests”.

Their visit to Iran coincides with months of teacher protests for higher salaries in the country.

Any EU sanctions would fall under the bloc’s “global human rights sanctions regime”. It was created two years ago so that the bloc could “target individuals, entities and bodies – including state and non-state actors – responsible for, involved in or associated with serious human rights violations and abuses in the world. whole world “.

Other human rights violations or abuses may be included “if they are widespread, systematic or otherwise of concern”.

These measures generally consist of travel bans and asset freezes for officials accused of involvement in suspected abuses or “entities”, such as banks, companies, agencies or other organisations. It prevents EU citizens from making funds available to listed individuals.

Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Prague, Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and John Leicester in Le Pecq, France contributed to this report.