Frenchman detained in Iran for 570 days begins hunger strike

The nightmare of Frenchman Benjamin Brière, detained in Iranian jails for a year and a half, is far from over. This 36-year-old man has been on hunger strike since December 25 in Vakil Abad prison, in Mashhad (northeast). The reason: the poor conditions of his detention, in particular his deprivation of the right to telephone his relatives for the Christmas holidays, confirmed his family and his Iranian lawyer, Saïd Dehghan.

« What is the revolutionary tribunal of Mashhad waiting for? [en charge du dossier] to study the political charges against Benjamin Brière who has been in detention for 570 days? « , can we read on the Twitter thread of the lawyer, referring to the fact that the French still has not gone before a judge.

The latter was arrested in May 2020 while traveling through Iran in a campervan. The charges against him state » spying «  and of « Propaganda against the system » policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was notably accused of having taken photographs of « Prohibited areas » in Iran with a recreational drone. He has always denied his accusations and his lawyer maintains that the Frenchman’s drone was a simple device, widely used in Iran for photographing landscapes or even during ceremonies, such as weddings.

« Incomprehensible » accusations

The Quai d’Orsay, for its part, judged « Incomprehensible » the charges against the French. On Monday, December 27, the foreign ministry announced that it was following up its case with « The greatest attention » and have « Regular contacts » with him under consular protection. According to French diplomacy, the last consular visit was on December 21 and the prisoner was contacted by the embassy on Monday.

« I had Benjamin on the phone ten days ago, explains his sister, Blandine Brière, reached by phone. He begins to sink, because the conditions of his detention are still the same and he undergoes psychological torture: overnight, he is deprived of telephone calls. Ditto for his access to books. He is in a prison where no one speaks his language and where there are death row inmates who disappear overnight. He can’t give me the details over the phone, because the conversations are recorded and then translated. His hunger strike is his last resort to protest the violation of his rights. « 

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