Families accuse EU of ‘ignoring’ Europeans imprisoned in Iran

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The families of four Europeans imprisoned for several years by Iran on Tuesday accused the European Union of ignoring the plight of their loved ones who they say are held hostage by the Islamic republic.

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The open letter by the families to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell comes as little sign emerges of a breakthrough in talks on the Iranian nuclear program which activists believe could speed their release.

“We, the families of French, Swedish, German, and Austrian citizens, who have been illegally detained by the Iranian regime, are outraged that the European Union seems to be ignoring these crimes,” the families said in the letter.

“All of them wonder whether EU officials have forgotten them and how much longer they will have to endure this ordeal,” they added.

The letter was signed by the sister of French citizen Benjamin Briere, the wife of Austrian Kamran Ghaderi, the wife of Swede Ahmadreza Djalali and the daughter of German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd.

Briere has been detained for two years while Ghaderi has been held for almost seven years.

Djalali has been in jail for six years and sentenced to death on espionage charges while, after some two years in jail, Sharmahd is being tried on charges that may see him sentenced to death.

“These European citizens have been subjected to torture, grossly unfair trials based on fabricated charges, without access to legal counsel or proper medical care,” said the letter.

“All of them are held hostage by a dictatorial regime that does not even abide by the minimum standard of international legal and human rights.”

Iran insists the foreign nationals are being held fully in line with the law but campaigners counter that in the past the Islamic republic has readily released foreigners in prisoner swaps or in apparent exchange for funds.

Borrell said on Monday he was “less confident” about efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which was abandoned by former US president Donald Trump in 2018.

According to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), there are currently some 20 dual nationals and foreign nationals with US or European passports detained in Iran.

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