Iran’s state TV says two French nationals have been arrested in connection with the protests

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TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s state TV on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of two French nationals, saying they had met with protesting teachers and taken part in anti-government rallies.

The report identified the two as Sicily Kohler, 38, and Chuck Paris, 69, and said they were not on a tourist trip to Iran. France had earlier identified the two as teachers’ union officials and as his companions on vacation in Iran.

Tehran’s intelligence ministry said last week that it had detained two Europeans.

Footage of the two’s arrival has been broadcast on TV, saying they landed at Tehran airport from Turkey on April 28. It also broadcast footage of their meetings with Iranian teachers and other staff, as well as their presence at a protest rally. A video shows the two being arrested on their way to Tehran airport on May 7 to leave the country.

According to the report, two French nationals were “organizing a demonstration” aimed at creating “instability” in Iran.

Last Thursday, France condemned the “baseless arrests” of the two men and called for their immediate release. The French Foreign Ministry said its ambassador to Tehran had already tried to obtain consular access to the couple and had summoned the charge d’affaires of the Iranian embassy in Paris to explain.

Another Frenchman, Benjamin Briar, was sentenced in January to more than eight years in prison for spying for Iran, during a tour of the country’s north in 2020 to take pictures of the “no-go zone” with a drone.

Briar’s lawyer claims that his client was used as a “bargaining chip” in diplomatic talks between Iran and the West over Tehran’s isolated nuclear deal with world powers.

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

Teachers have been on strike in several cities across Iran for the past few weeks. Teachers have dropped out of their classes to push for better pay and working conditions.

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