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France’s foreign ministry: 2 French nationals held in Iran

May 12, 2022 GMT

PARIS (AP) — France’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that two French nationals have been arrested in Iran and French authorities have “fully mobilized” to secure their swift release.

Prominent trade union Workers’ Force identified the two Thursday as a teachers’ union official named Cecile Kohler, and her partner. It said they were on a tourist trip to Iran as part of an Easter vacation break. The union said it was made aware of the arrests Wednesday.

France’s Foreign Ministry said its ambassador in Tehran has already attempted to obtain consular access to the couple and the charge d’affaires at Iran’s Paris embassy has been summoned for explanations. The ministry didn’t say what charges the two French faced.

The French government said it “condemns this groundless arrest” and “calls for (the French nationals’) immediate release.”

Another French citizen, Benjamin Briere, was sentenced in January by Iran to over eight years in prison for espionage, for photographing “prohibited areas” with a drone in 2020 during what he said was a tourist visit in the north of the country.

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Briere’s lawyer had claimed his client was being used as a “bargaining chip” in diplomatic negotiations at the time between Iran and Western countries over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Also in January, Iranian justice ordered the re-imprisonment of Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in 2019, who had for a time been authorized to serve a five-year prison sentence under house arrest. She had been accused of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s political system” and “collusion to undermine national security.”