French Foreign Ministry: 2 French nationals detained in Iran

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PARIS – The French Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that two French nationals had been arrested in Iran and that French authorities were “fully active” in ensuring their speedy release.

Prominent trade union workers’ forces on Thursday identified the two as Sicily Kohler, a teacher union official, and his associates. It said they were on a tour of Iran as part of an Easter holiday break. The union said it was aware of the arrests on Wednesday.

The French Foreign Ministry said its ambassador to Tehran had already tried to gain consular access to the couple and that the Iranian embassy in Paris had been summoned for comment. The ministry did not say what allegations were made against the two Frenchmen.

The French government has said it “condemns these baseless arrests” and “calls for the immediate release of all French nationals.”

Another Frenchman, Benjamin Briar, who was sentenced in January to more than eight years in prison for spying for Iran, said in a photo taken in 2020 of a “no-go zone” with a drone that he was on a tour of the north of the country.

Briar’s lawyer claims that his client is being used as a “bargaining chip” in diplomatic talks between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Also in January, an Iranian court ordered the re-imprisonment of Fariba Adelkha, a Franco-Iranian educationist arrested in 2019, who was allowed to serve a five-year sentence while under house arrest. He has been charged with “propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic” and “conspiracy to undermine national security.”

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