“Confessions” of two French in Iran, Paris denounces a “staged”

“Confessions” of two French people in Iran, Paris denounces a «


Paris denounced an “unworthy” and “revolting” staging after Iran broadcast Thursday a video presented as “confessions” by two French people arrested in May in the country, in which they claim to be French intelligence agents. 

The two Frenchmen were arrested at a time when Iran was the scene of demonstrations by teachers demanding reforms for a revaluation of their salaries and called for the release of colleagues arrested during previous mobilizations.

The broadcast of this video also comes against the backdrop of other demonstrations sparked on September 16 by the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, after her arrest by the morality police.

Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking protests and said last week that nine foreign nationals, including from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands, had been arrested .

In the video broadcast by the site of the Arabic-language channel al-Alam of the official television, a young woman speaking French claims to be called Cécile Kohler and to be an operational intelligence agent at the Directorate General of External Security (DGSE), the French intelligence services.

France, which in May denounced an “unfounded” arrest, on Thursday described the dissemination of these images as “unworthy, revolting, unacceptable and contrary to international law”.

“This masquerade reveals the contempt for human dignity that characterizes the Iranian authorities”, declared the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding the “immediate release” of Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris.

The two Frenchmen are “hostages of 'State', adds the Quai d'Orsay.

Iran announced on May 11 the arrest of two Europeans “who entered the country with the aim of triggering chaos and destabilizing society”.

Tehran then accused in early July of “attacking security” of the country two “French trade unionists” arrested in May.

“Trade unionists”

A French trade union source had identified them as Cécile Kohler, a head of the Fnec FP-FO teachers' union, and her spouse Jacques Paris. She said they were sightseeing in Iran during the Easter holidays at the time of their arrest.

In the video released Thursday, the woman who sits and wears a colorful veil claims that she and her spouse were in Iran “to prepare the conditions for the revolution and the overthrow of the Iranian regime”.

She mentions “money” which was to “be used to finance strike actions and demonstrations”.

According to the man shown in the video, who also speaks French, the “objectives of the DGSE” are to “put pressure on the government” of Iran.

Iranian television has already shown “confessions” by detainees in the past, including Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari, who later claimed in a book published abroad that he was forced during his detention in 2009 to make them.< /p>

In June 2020, NGOs urged Iran to end the practice of televised “forced confessions” of prisoners broadcast by state media.

According to the London-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Justice for Iran (JFI), interviewed victims say they were “subjected to acts of torture and ill-treatment to force them to confess to facts (often false) in front of the camera”.

More than twenty nationals of Western countries, mostly dual nationals, are detained or stranded in Iran, which NGOs condemn as a policy of hostage-taking to obtain concessions from foreign powers.

Among them is the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 and then sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, which her relatives have still fiercely denied, as well as the Frenchman Benjamin Brière, arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, which he disputes.

Iran had announced in mid-June arresting a suspected Marxist activist linked to the two trade unionists French stes, claiming that “its mission was to incite sedition and agitation in the working class”.