Frenchman detained in Iran begins hunger strike, family announces

Benjamin Brière, a Frenchman detained in Iran for over a year and a half for « spying« Began a hunger strike to protest against his conditions of detention, his family told AFP on Monday (December 27th). Benjamin Brière, 36, who has always presented himself as a tourist and denies the accusations of espionage, was arrested in May 2020 for having taken « photographs of prohibited areasWith a recreational drone in a natural park in Iran, according to his lawyer.

«Benjamin started the hunger strike on December 25 because he was not allowed to call us for the Christmas holidays, but also to denounce the mistreatment he has suffered for twenty months.», His sister Blandine told AFP. Benjamin Brière is being held in Valikabad prison, in Mashhad, in northeastern Iran. « He sees no change in his situation», She lamented.

According to Blandine Brière, he was arrested in May 2020 while he was crossing Iran as a tourist, during a long trip in a campervan that began in 2018. Last May, his Iranian lawyer had indicated that Benjamin Brière would be tried for « spying » and « propagandaAgainst the political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Espionage carries the death penalty in this country. The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has ruled « incomprehensibleThese accusations. « He is being taken hostage for no reason. It’s completely illegal, we don’t know anything. Benjamin needs more French diplomacy», Added Blandin Brière.

Exchanges of detainees

The French Foreign Ministry said on Monday to follow up his case with « the greatest attention« And have »regular contactsWith him under consular protection. « He benefited from a further consular visit on Tuesday, December 21 and was contacted by our embassy today.Added the deputy spokesperson of the Quai d’Orsay during an electronic press briefing.

Iran retains more than a dozen Western passport holders, most of them binational, which NGOs condemn as a hostage-taking policy designed to obtain concessions from foreign powers. In recent years, the Islamic Republic has carried out several exchanges of detainees with foreign countries. Benjamin Brière is the only known westerner detained in Iran who does not have an Iranian passport.

Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah has been detained since June 2019 and was sentenced in May 2020 to five years in prison for attacks on national security. She has been under house arrest since October 2020. Her companion Roland Marchal, also a researcher, was detained with her before being released in March 2020, after Paris freed Iranian engineer Jallal Rohollahnejad, whom the United States demanded extradition for violating US sanctions against Iran.


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