Two more French citizens held in Iran, bringing total to seven

AP - Hussein Malla

Two more French citizens have been detained in Iran, bringing to seven the number of people from France held in the Islamic Republic, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Saturday.

The minister told the daily newspaper Le Parisien that her office had reason to believe that a further two French nationals had been detained.

Last month, Colonna said five were being held in Iran.

"It is more important than ever to remind Iran of its international obligations. If its aim is blackmail, then it cannot work," the minister said.

"We demand their immediate release.

"My Iranian counterpart, with whom I had a long and difficult conversation, has committed to respecting the right of consular access. I expect that to happen."

The identities of the latest detainees were not revealed.

The others held are French-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 and later sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, allegations her family has strongly denied.

Another, Benjamin Brière, was arrested in May 2020 and later sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, charges he rejects.

French teachers' union official Cécile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris were also detained in May this year, accused of seeking to stir labour unrest during teachers' strikes.

There is also an unidentified "Frenchman who was passing through" Tehran, according to the authorities in Paris. He is said to have been detained during the recent demonstrations.

Individual safety is not guaranteed

The French government last month advised its citizens visiting Iran to "leave the country as soon as possible".

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