Dozens demand release of French detainees in Iran

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Dozens of supporters of two French nationals detained last year in Iran demanded their release in Paris Sunday after Tehran freed two fellow citizens who had been on hunger strike.

“Freedom for Cecile Kohler and Jacques Paris,” they chanted at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, a little over a year after their arrest on May 7, 2022.

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Kohler, a teacher, and her partner Paris, remain in prison in the Iranian capital’s Evin prison accused of espionage charges their family deny.

Their relatives and friends gathered in Paris after Iran on Friday released French nationals Benjamin Briere and Bernard Phelan, who also holds Irish nationality, from a prison in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad.

“It gives us hope,” said Kohler’s sister Noemie.

She said her sister had only received a single consular visit in what she described as the “nightmare of a year” since her arrest.

“She’s holding on even if it’s still very tough... She spent several months in solitary confinement and is now with other detainees,” she added.

“We send her books, but she has only received one since the start of her detention.”

Kohler and Paris are among four French citizens, described previously as “hostages” by the French foreign ministry, who are still in prison in Iran.

A fifth person, French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, was released from prison in February but appears unable to leave the country.

Several other foreigners are also jailed in Iran. Campaigners view them as hostages held in a deliberate strategy by Tehran to extract concessions from the West.

Read more:

France says working to free ‘all Europeans’ imprisoned in Iran

Paris says Iran released two French citizens from prison

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