Iran says more foreign nationals have been arrested in what it calls, the “case of the French spies,” accusing them of a conspiracy to harm national security.
During a weekly press briefing, Iran’s judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said those newly detained individuals have been accused of “conspiracy and collusion”.
However, he did not mention how many more arrests have been made and what countries the foreign nationals are from.
“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,” noted Setayeshi.
Paris lashed out at the clerical regime earlier this month accusing Tehran of the practices of “worst dictatorial regimes.”
France called the forced confession of two French nationals, arrested in May, on Iranian state TV “shameful, revolting, and unacceptable,” and demanded their immediate release.
“Cecile Kohler and Jacques Paris have been arbitrarily detained in Iran since May 2022, and as such are state hostages … the staging of their supposed confessions is shameful, revolting, unacceptable and contrary to international law,” said a foreign ministry statement.
Iran’s state media are infamous for purported confessions by prisoners in politically charged cases. Such prisoners are held without due process of law and usually cannot chose their own defense attorney.
In a video aired earlier this month, one of the two French nationals – Cecile Kohler – said they were in Iran to “prepare the ground for the revolution and the overthrow of the regime of Islamic Iran”.
France says five of its nationals are currently held in Iran. Fariba Adelkhah, an Iranian born woman, was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison for “undermining national security.” Benjamin Briere was also arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to eight years and eight months for espionage, without due process of law.
After the outbreak of protests following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of ‘morality police,’ Iran said in late September it had detained nine foreign nationals linked to unrest, including those from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, several foreigners visiting Iran have disappeared, confirming earlier reports that the Islamic Republic is taking foreign citizens hostage.
Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was jailed in Iran for over 800 days from 2018 to 2020, said on Monday she “can confirm that the two New Zealand travel bloggers, Topher Richwhite and his wife Bridget Thackwray of ‘Expedition Earth,’ are missing, believed to be arrested in Iran.”
Earlier in the day, The Associated Press reported that a Spanish man trekking from Madrid to Doha for the 2022 FIFA World Cup has not been heard from since the day after he crossed into Iran three weeks ago.
Tehran denies any policy of hostage taking and insists all foreigners are tried according to legal process. However, it has frequently shown readiness for prisoner exchanges and participated in swaps in the past.
UN experts and international human rights organization say that the Islamic Republic takes foreigners hostage to extract concessions from the West.