“No counterpart” to the release of the two French in Iran

The French Foreign Minister said on Tuesday that there had been “no counterpart” to the release of Frenchman Benjamin Brière and Irish Franco Bernard Phelan who were prisoners in Iran.

“There was none,” said Catherine Colonna, interviewed on the France 2 television channel. “I want to say it,” she added. “We pleaded a lot at different levels with the Iranian authorities given their extremely poor state of health,” she also said.

“They were both sick”

Benjamin Brière, 37, and Bernard Phelan, 64, were released on May 12. “They were both sick. Fortunately, they came out of this ordeal, ”said Catherine Colonna, lamenting that Benjamin Brière had “spent three years in Iranian jails”. “This is not acceptable,” she added.

She recalled that the French authorities were now working on the “unconditional” release of the four other French people still detained in Iran. They are Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, arrested on May 7, 2022, “during a tourist stay” according to their relatives, and a 35-year-old consultant, Louis Arnaud, arrested on September 28 in Tehran, him also went to Iran as a tourist.

Four other French still detained in Iran

Another Frenchman is also detained but his identity has never been made public. Asked about the reasons for her anonymity, Catherine Colonna stressed that it was “at the request of her family”. “We completely respect privacy,” she continued, assuring that it was not a secret agent.

Finally, she indicated that France was struggling so that the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah obtains papers and can finally be free to move. Arrested in 2019 and then sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, she was released on February 10 but cannot leave Iran.

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