FILE PHOTO: An Iranian van driver sits at his vehicle while an Iranian Sejjil solid-fueled medium-range ballistic missile displayed at a square in southern Tehran during a military exhibition. REUTERS./

 – France said on Wednesday that one of its citizens being held in Iran has been sentenced to five years in prison on a baseless conviction calling for his immediate release and that of three other of its nationals held in the country.

Ties between France and Iran have been strained over the issue in what Paris has said are arbitrary arrests that are equivalent to state hostage taking.

ANALYSIS: How Hostage Taking Is An Integral Part of Iran’s Foreign Policy

“We learned with the greatest concern that Mr. Louis Arnaud had been sentenced to five years in prison,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement.

“This conviction, for which there is nothing to support and the absence of any access to a lawyer, is unacceptable.”

Arnaud, who has been held since September 2022, is one of four French nationals held in Iran, and is being detained at the Evin prison in Tehran.

His mother, Sylvie, told Reuters the pretext given for his sentencing were for “propaganda and harming the security of the Iranian state.”

“These are completely baseless and a carbon copy of what they attribute to other Europeans held in Iran,” she said.

In recent years, Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on charges related to espionage and security.

Rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran, which does not recognise dual nationality, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage.

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(Reporting by John Irish;Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Alistair Bell)

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