IRGC members stand guard under a portrait of Ali Khamenei outside the entrance to the Tehran courthouse. REUTERS./FILE PHOTO

 – Iranian authorities have made more arrests in “the case of French spies”, the judiciary spokesperson said on Tuesday, saying those newly detained had been accused of “conspiracy and collusion” with the aim of harming national security.

France lashed out at Iran for “dictatorial practices” and taking two of its citizens hostage earlier this month after a video aired in which they appeared to confess to spying. France has condemned their arrest and demanded the pair’s immediate release.

Iran’s judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi, during a weekly news conference, did not say how many more arrests had been made in what he called the “case of the French spies”, nor give their nationalities or any other details.

“In this case, other arrests have been made and the chain of information is about to be completed and will be announced as soon as it is finalized,” he said, adding that the investigation was moving swiftly.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said in May it had arrested two Europeans for allegedly fomenting “insecurity” in Iran, where people have been protesting since Mahsa Amini died in the custody of the morality police last month.

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Iran’s state media often air purported confessions by suspects in politically charged cases.

In the video aired earlier this month, one of the two – Cecile Kohler – said they were in Iran to “prepare the ground for the revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Islamic Iran”.

The video sparked outrage in Paris with the Foreign Ministry saying for the first time that the two citizens, along with two others also being held in Iran, were “state hostages”. It said the alleged confessions extracted under duress had no basis and neither did reasons given for their arbitrary arrest.

Iran has repeatedly accused foreign adversaries such as the United States and Israel of stoking the unrest ignited by the death of 22-year-old Amini, who died in morality police custody after being arrested for “inappropriate attire”.

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Amini’s death and a deadly state crackdown on the protests have prompted several Western states to condemn Tehran and impose new sanctions on Iranian officials, further souring already strained diplomatic ties.

ANALYSIS: Women-Led Protests Are Shifting the West’s Attitude Towards Iran

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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