“We had concerns about two other compatriots and it appears from the latest checks that they are also detained,” said Catherine Colonna.
“It is more important than ever to remind Iran of its international obligations. If its objective was to blackmail, it must not work. It is the wrong way to go about it with France”, a- she added.
“We demand their immediate release, access to consular protection (…). My Iranian counterpart, with whom I had a long and difficult conversation, has made a commitment to respect this right of access. J ‘wait for it to materialize’.
On Friday, Le Figaro had already reported on these two additional detainees, citing a diplomatic source and an Iranian source. They would be imprisoned for several months, therefore before the start of the demonstrations which have shaken the Iranian regime since September 16, according to the daily.
The Quai d’Orsay did not respond to requests for clarification from AFP on Saturday.
Among the seven detainees are the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, arrested in June 2019 then sentenced to five years in prison for undermining national security, Benjamin Brière, arrested in May 2020 and sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for espionage, and two trade unionists, Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, arrested last May.
At the beginning of October, Tehran had broadcast a video presented as “confessions” of the latter, causing a virulent reaction from Paris which had denounced an “unworthy staging” and evoked for the first time “State hostages”.
In the video broadcast by the website 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 General Directorate of External Security (DGSE) , the French foreign intelligence services.
The Quai d’Orsay has since called on French people passing through Iran to “leave the country as soon as possible given the risks of arbitrary detention to which they are exposed”.
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.
At least 326 protesters have been killed in the crackdown on the protest movement that has rocked Iran since September, said Oslo-based Iran Human Rights on Saturday.
The country has been the scene of protests since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd, arrested three days earlier by vice police for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.