August 3, 2021

Frenchman accused of espionage in Iran

A year after his arrest, French tourist Benjamin Brière, detained in Iran since May 2020, was finally informed of the charges against him: “espionage” and “propaganda against the political system” of the Islamic Republic of Iran .

Sunday, May 30, the prosecutor’s office in the city of Machhad (North-East) where this 36-year-old Frenchman is imprisoned, thus announced the end of the investigation of his case. According to his lawyer, Saïd Dehghan, joined by The world, the charge of “espionage”, punishable by six months to three years in prison, was brought against this tourist making a long trip with a campervan, started in 2018, for having taken pictures of the “Prohibited areas” in a natural park in the east of the country. “The GoPro camera that Benjamin used is widely used in Iran to photograph landscapes and even events, such as weddings”, explains the lawyer, rejecting the accusation that the French would have used a drone.

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As for the charge of “propaganda”, it is based on a publication by the Frenchman on social networks where he questioned the obligation for women in Iran to wear the veil while in other Muslim countries, he did not. is not mandatory. According to Me Dehghan, the defense succeeded, at a hearing in March before investigators, to raise two other charges, “corruption on earth” and “consumption of alcoholic beverages”.

The news of the end of the investigation was released days after the Frenchman’s sister, Blandine Brière, in an open letter asked French President Emmanuel Macron to intervene to get his imprisoned brother out of Iran. , according to her, ” unfounded “. The accusations of “espionage” formulated by Tehran against the young Frenchman “Are incomprehensible”, underlined Sunday, May 30 the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a reaction communicated to Agence France Presse.

In Iran, around ten foreign and binational citizens are currently detained, including the Franco-Iranian anthropologist Fariba Adelkhah. Sentenced to five years in prison, she has been under house arrest in Tehran since October 2020, after sixteen months of detention in Evin prison in the capital. Mme Adelkhah has consistently rejected the charges against her, “Propaganda” and “collusion with a view to undermining national security”.

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