PARIS — France said on Wednesday that Iran arrested a French national in May 2020 and has been holding him since, confirming a news report which called the detention illegal.
The foreign ministry said the French national was under consular protection, its embassy in Tehran was in regular contact with him and that it was “attentively following the situation of our fellow national.”
French news publication Le Point said the 35-year old, whom it named only as Benjamin, was arrested in northeastern Iran near the Turkmenistan border where he was traveling as a tourist in a van, according to his Iranian lawyer who also said that lawyers had not been granted access to case files.
Quoting a source close to Benjamin, Le Point said he had spoken by telephone to his family, but his detention was illegal because “the authorities never produced the slightest case file or any explanation for his detention.”
Iran has in recent years repeatedly detained foreigners and dual nationals on charges campaigners and governments say are unfounded, with the prisoners only going free after months and sometimes even years of painstaking negotiation.
High-profile releases of foreign prisoners in Iran — of American Xiyue Wang in December 2019, American Michael White in March 2020 and Frenchman Roland Marchal, also in March — were all accompanied by the release of Iranians held abroad on sanctions-busting charges.
But concern over the tactics intensified last autumn with the release of Australian-British lecturer Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was freed in an apparent exchange for three Iranians convicted in Thailand over a 2012 bomb plot that Israel linked to attacks against its interests.
I’m proud to work at The Times of Israel
I’ll tell you the truth: Life here in Israel isn’t always easy. But it’s full of beauty and meaning.
I’m proud to work at The Times of Israel alongside colleagues who pour their hearts into their work day in, day out, to capture the complexity of this extraordinary place.
I believe our reporting sets an important tone of honesty and decency that’s essential to understand what’s really happening in Israel. It takes a lot of time, commitment and hard work from our team to get this right.
Your support, through membership in The Times of Israel Community, enables us to continue our work. Would you join our Community today?
Sarah Tuttle Singer, New Media Editor
You’re serious. We appreciate that!
We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.
That’s why we come to work every day – to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.
So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.
For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.