REUTERS: The sister of a French tourist arrested in Iran 10 months ago over charges of espionage pled on Monday (March 15) for the release of her brother and for him to be able to go home.
French man Benjamin Briere faces charges of “spying and propaganda against the system”, one of his lawyers told Reuters on Monday.
Speaking to Reuters, Briere’s sister Blandine said the accusations against her brother were crazy. In tears, she said she missed her brother, who had barely seen his nephews before leaving for Iran, and that she couldn’t understand how he could have ended up in such a situation.
“It’s really hard. I want things to move because it’s been 10 months that nothing has happened,” she said, describing her sibling as very independent.
Briere, 35, was arrested after flying a helicam in the desert near the Turkmenistan-Iran border, lawyer Saeid Dehghan said.
The new details of the case come at a time of heightened tension between Tehran and the West, as the United States and European parties to Iran‘s 2015 nuclear deal – including France – try to restore the pact abandoned in 2018 by then-U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. President Joe Biden has offered to join European countries in talks to revive the pact but Iran says Washington should first lift sanctions imposed in 2018 under Trump.
Iran‘s judiciary was not available to comment. Last month, France’s foreign ministry confirmed a French citizen was being held in Iran and said it was monitoring the situation.
The lawyer said Briere had been charged with “propaganda against the system” because of a post on social media, in which he said “the hijab is mandatory” in Iran but not in other Islamic countries.
A person close to his family told Reuters last month that Briere, who works in the events industry, had travelled to Iran by van from France.
Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.
Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting dual nationals and foreigners to seek concessions from other countries. Tehran denies holding people for political reasons.
On Monday, Iran advised Britain against “politicising” the detention of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff, who faces a new charge of “propaganda against the system”.
(Production: Ardee Napolitano)