FILE PHOTO: Flags of France and the European Union are seen at the Elysee Palace in Paris. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 – Iranian state television aired a video on Thursday in which two French citizens detained for “spying” in Iran in May appeared to confess to acting on behalf of a French security service, amid weeks of unrest that Tehran has linked to foreign foes.

France’s Foreign Ministry accused Iran of the practices of the “worst dictatorial regimes” over the video confessions and categorically denied that the two were members of the French intelligence services.

Iran‘s intelligence ministry said in May it had arrested two Europeans for allegedly fomenting “insecurity” in Iran. France has condemned and demanded immediate release of Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris.

“I am Cecile Kohler, I am an intelligence and operations agent at the DGSE (Directorate General for External Security) … We were in Iran to prepare the ground for the revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Islamic Iran,” Kohler said in the video, while wearing a headscarf.

State TV said the two French citizens had entered Iran with “chunks of money … which was meant to fund strikes and demonstrations.”

“Our goal at the French security service is to pressure the government of Iran,” said Paris in the video.

In May, state TV aired a video of the couple saying they travelled to Iran as tourists “but they took part in anti-government protests and met members of the so-called Teachers’ Association”, referring to protests by Iranian teachers across the country demanding better wages and working conditions.

The “confession” coincides with weeks of anti-government protests in Iran over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last month.

The nationwide protests have received wide international support, prompting Tehran to lash out at its critics by accusing the United States and Israel of exploiting the unrest to try to destabilise the Islamic Republic.

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(Additional reporting by John Irish in Paris, Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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