Iranian Court Confirms Long Prison Sentence For Espionage For French National Briere
By RFE/RL's Radio Farda June 29, 2022
A court in Iran has denied an appeal by French citizen Benjamin Briere and confirmed his prison sentence of eight years and eight months for espionage, a charge he and his family have rejected.
Briere's Iranian lawyer, Saeid Dehghan, announced on Twitter on June 28 that the court had declared France a "hostile state."
The 37-year-old French tourist had traveled to Iran in a van in May 2020 and was arrested after flying a drone on the plains near the Iran-Turkmenistan border.
The trial lasted until February last year, when the Islamic republic's judiciary finally sentenced him to eight years and eight months in prison on charges of "espionage" and "propaganda against the regime."
At the time, Dehghan stated that he had been "accused of collaborating with governments hostile to Iran," while his client "was unaware of his new charge."
AFP quoted Briere's sister, Blandine, as saying the trial was "a masquerade" and part of a geopolitical game Tehran is playing.
Briere is one of more than a dozen foreign nationals or people with dual Iranian citizenship being held in Iran. Two other French nationals -- 37-year-old Cecile Kohler and her 69-year-old partner, Jacques Paris -- have also been detained in Iran, accused of seeking to foment labor unrest in the country.
Western countries have repeatedly charged that Iran is trying to take advantage of foreign countries by taking dual and foreign nationals hostage.
The verdict also comes as Iran and world powers are seeking to reach agreement on reviving the 2015 deal over Tehran's nuclear program.
Negotiators from the United States and Iran are expected to hold indirect talks in Qatar on June 29 as they look to overcome hurdles to reaching a final agreement.
With writing and reporting by Ardeshir Tayebi
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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