Iran accuses French tourist of spying: lawyer | News France

Benjamin Berier, arrested 10 months ago, faces a long prison sentence, his lawyer said.

Iran accused a French tourist of spying and “spreading propaganda against the system,” his lawyer said, the latest in a series of cases against foreigners at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the West.

Saeid Dehghan said Benjamin Briere, 35, was arrested 10 months ago after piloting a helicam in the desert near the Turkmenistan-Iran border.

“On Sunday he (Brière) was charged with two counts of espionage and propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” Dehghan told Reuters news agency on Monday, adding that Brière faced a long prison sentence. Dehghan also said the charges against Briere in a Twitter message on Monday.

“His last defense was taken yesterday. His charges of espionage are due to the taking of photos in no-go areas, ”Dehghan told Reuters.

“He is in Vakilabad prison in the city of Mashhad. His health is good and he has access to his lawyers and he also enjoys consular protection and the officials of the French Embassy have been in regular contact with him, ”he added.

Iranian justice was not available for comment. France has yet to comment on Brière’s accusations.

Last month, the French Foreign Ministry confirmed that a French citizen was being held in Iran and said it was monitoring the situation.

“Although the French government is pursuing Brière’s case, I fear that any delay in the full follow-up will further complicate the case,” Dehghan said.

The lawyer said Brière was accused of “propaganda against the system” because of a post on social media, in which he said that “the hijab is compulsory” in Iran but not in other majority countries. Muslim.

“My colleagues and I believe these accusations are false and unfounded, but we must wait for the judge to conduct a full investigation in the next few days and announce his verdict,” Dehghan said.

The elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has arrested dozens of binationals and foreigners in recent years, mostly for espionage.

Human rights activists have accused Tehran of doing so in an attempt to win concessions from other countries. Iran denies that it is holding people for political reasons and has accused many of those held in its prisons with espionage.

Dual Anglo-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe reappeared in a Tehran court on Sunday to face charges of spreading propaganda after serving a five-year prison sentence for espionage. She remains in limbo in Iran awaiting the verdict, unable to return home to the UK.

The cases come as Iran steps up pressure on the United States and European powers, including France and the United Kingdom, to grant much-needed sanctions relief under its deal. nuclear ragged with world powers under which it has curbed its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions.

As former US President Donald Trump scrapped the landmark nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on the country, President Joe Biden has offered to join talks to restore the deal. , as long as Iran returns to full compliance with its conditions. But Washington and Tehran are at an impasse, each insisting on the other to revive the deal.

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