Iran releases video of two Frenchmen detained for espionage

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (HPD) — Iran released a video Thursday in which two detained French citizens allegedly confess that they work for a French security service. The scenes were released as protests continue to rock the country, and which Tehran tries to describe as a foreign plot rather than outrage over the death of a 22-year-old girl detained by morality police.

The video published by the state news agency IRNA showed two French citizens, Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, who are trade unionists associated with the French National Federation for Education, Culture and Vocational Training.

Iran has in the past detained Western citizens to use as a bargaining tool, and has not released evidence to support the espionage allegations against the two Frenchmen.

The videos were reminiscent of other recordings that Tehran has imposed on other prisoners. In 2020, a report suggested that authorities had issued at least 355 coerced confessions in the last decade.

In the videos, Kohler wears a bandana over her hair and describes herself as an “intelligence agent and operation of the French foreign security service.” Paris allegedly says that “our goal in the foreign security service is to put pressure on the Iranian government.” The recordings are part of what was described as an upcoming documentary on Iranian state television.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called “alleged confessions obtained through coercion” “outrageous.”

“This farce reveals the disdain for human dignity that characterizes the Iranian authorities,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

He said that there are other French citizens arbitrarily detained in Iran, without identifying them.

For their part, the legislators of the European Union approved a resolution calling for sanctions against those responsible for the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died after being detained by the Iranian morality police, and for the repression by the Islamic Republic of the anti-government protests.

The resolution calls on the 27-nation bloc to sanction Iranian authorities and to investigate Amini’s death.

“Parliament strongly condemns the widespread and disproportionate use of force by Iranian security agencies against crowds,” the resolution says. It demands that Iran “immediately and unconditionally release and desist from charging those who have been imprisoned for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as other human rights defenders.”

Iran has been mired in protests over Amini’s death for weeks.

The outpouring of anger, led by young women and directed at the all-male government, has created a turning point in the country by sparking some of the biggest and boldest protests against Islamic leadership in recent years.

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