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Paris urges Tehran to release five French nationals

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world news / Middle East Issued on: 11/10/2022 – 10:40Modified: 11/10/2022 – 22:52

02:25

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on October 11, 2022, said five French nationals were being held in Iran. © Ed Jones, AFP France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that five of its nationals were being held in Iran and the European Union had agreed on the technical aspects to impose sanctions on Tehran, which would come into force next week. 

France’s foreign minister on Tuesday called on Tehran to release two detained French citizens in a telephone call with her Iranian counterpart who slammed European “interference” in his country’s internal affairs.

Catherine Colonna “brought up the situation of our citizens arbitrarily detained in Iran and reiterated our call for their immediate release”, France’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

“She recalled the unacceptable nature of the alleged television confessions” by two French citizens, French teachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris, aired by Tehran last week. They have been held by Iran since May.

Earlier on Tuesday, Colonna told France Inter radio that five French citizens are currently being held in Iran.

Those held include French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 and later sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, allegations her family has strongly denied.

Another, Benjamin Briere, was arrested in May 2020 and later sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, charges he rejects.

The fifth is a “Frenchman who was passing through” Tehran and recently arrested, the ministry said.

Iran announced last month it had arrested nine foreigners including a French national during a wave of protests that erupted on September 16 following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

Amini, 22, an Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, died following her arrest by the notorious Tehran morality police who enforce the strict dress rules on women including compulsory headscarves.

Colonna “strongly condemned” the crackdown on protests and called on Iran to respect “the international commitments to which it has signed up to”.

After their phone call, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Twitter said he “objected to Europe’s interference in our internal affairs. Said we will reciprocate if EU restrictive measures applied”.

The EU has agreed on a package of sanctions targeting those responsible for the crackdown on protests, Colonna told France Inter, adding that the punitive measures would be approved next week at the European Council.

(AFP)

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