Iran: Frenchman Benjamin Brière acquitted on appeal in mid-February, but still imprisoned

Frenchman Benjamin Brière, detained in Iran since the end of May 2020 and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for espionage, was “acquitted of all charges” on appeal on February 15 but remains imprisoned, his lawyer and his family, who denounce a “totally grotesque situation”. After the verdict of acquittal, the court ordered the next day “his immediate release” but the Frenchman, on hunger strike since January 28, “was not released by the Revolutionary Guards who keep him imprisoned” , according to his French lawyer Me Philippe Valent.

“We are in total incomprehension”

“At the last moment he was blocked in extremis” and remains imprisoned in Vakilabad prison in Mashad (north-east), explained Me Valent, denouncing “incredible psychological violence” against Benjamin Brière and his family. . “We demand respect by the Iranian regime for the court decisions,” he added.

“We are in total incomprehension”, for her part declared to AFP Blandine Brière, the sister of the prisoner, who was able to speak to him last Sunday. “He’s on an emotional elevator,” she said, explaining that the family hadn’t made the court decision public in hopes the situation would unblock.

Benjamin Brière, who always presented himself as a tourist, was arrested in May 2020 for having taken “photographs of prohibited areas” with a recreational drone in a natural park. In total, six French people are detained in Iran. The seventh, researcher Fariba Adelkhah, was released on February 10 after three and a half years in prison but does not know whether she has recovered all her rights, including that of leaving Iran. France has been denouncing for months a “diplomacy of hostages” carried out by the Iranian regime.

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