It has been more than three hundred days since Louis Arnaud, a 35-year-old consultant who traveled on the Silk Road, has been detained in Iran. A petition calling for his release has garnered more than 100,000 signatures in two weeks, 1er August its support committee, which urges the French government “to intensify its efforts” for his release.
“We are launching this appeal from the heart in order to help Louis Arnaud, our friend, our brother, our son”can we read on this petition posted on July 16 and which has so far collected 100,282 signatures.
“Louis is a travel enthusiast who embarked on a journey in July to fulfill his dream of traveling the Silk Road by land and sea. However, on September 28, 2022, his journey took a dramatic turn when he was arrested along with other travelers he met on the roads., wrote the support committee in a press release on Tuesday. His relatives specify that Mr. Arnaud “has made the deliberate choice to avoid the plane, thus affirming his ecological commitment during his journey”.
“No founded accusation”
In a previous press release, the committee said that “Louis and fellow European travelers had stayed away from the protests that began in mid-September [en Iran] even though they had already been in the country for several weeks”. The travellers “were going to an escape game site to celebrate the birthday of one of them when they were suddenly arrested and taken to Evin prison in Tehran”.
While her fellow European travelers have since been released, “Louis is still being held in Evin prison, without any founded charges being brought against him”. “Faced with this worrying situation, we appeal to our government and its diplomacy to intensify their efforts for the release of Louis”urges the support committee, which is concerned about “irreversible psychological and physical consequences that this prolonged detention could have on Louis”.
A dozen Western nationals detained
The Islamic Republic of Iran detains more than a dozen Western nationals, most of them dual nationals, and it is accused by the supporters of prisoners and NGOs of using them as bargaining chips in negotiations.
In addition to Mr. Arnaud, three Frenchmen, whom Paris qualifies as“state hostages”are still detained in Iran: a French teacher, Cécile Kohler, and her companion Jacques Paris, arrested in May 2022 for ” spying “and another person whose identity has not been disclosed.
The Franco-Iranian researcher, Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in 2019 and then sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, was released on February 10 but is prohibited from leaving Iranian territory.