TEHRAN, Iran ( Associated Press) — Iranian state television confirmed the detention of two French citizens Tuesday, saying they had met with disgruntled teachers and participated in an anti-government march.
The report identified them as Cecile Kohler, 37, and Chuck Paris, 69, and said they were not on a tourist visit to Iran. France had earlier identified the two as a teacher’s union representative and her partner, who were on vacation in Iran.
The Intelligence Ministry in Tehran only said last week that it had detained two European citizens.
The television station showed images of the arrival of the two Frenchmen and said that they had arrived from Turkey at the Tehran airport on April 28. It also showed footage of their meetings with Iranian professors and other activists, as well as their presence at a protest, and a video of them appearing to be detained on their way to the Tehran airport to leave the country on May 7.
The report stated that the two French citizens were “organizing a protest” with the aim of creating “instability” in Iran.
France last Thursday condemned the “baseless detention” of the two people and called for their immediate release. The French foreign ministry said its ambassador in Tehran had already tried to gain consular access to the couple and that the person in charge of affairs at the Iranian embassy in Paris had been summoned for explanations.
Another Gallic citizen, Benjamin Briere, was sentenced in January in Iran to more than eight years in prison for espionage, for photographing “prohibited areas” with a drone in 2020 on what he said was a tourist visit to the north of the country.
Briere’s lawyer claimed his client was being used as a “bargain currency” in diplomatic negotiations at the time between Iran and Western countries over Tehran’s ailing nuclear deal with international powers.
Also in January, the Iranian justice ordered the return to prison of the Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in 2019 and who for a long time had been able to serve her five-year prison sentence under house arrest. She was accused of “propaganda against the political system of the Islamic Republic” and “collusion to undermine national security”.
Teachers’ strikes have taken place in several Iranian cities in recent weeks. Teachers have stopped teaching classes to demand better wages and working conditions.