Iran accuses France of ‘interfering’ over detained nationals

tehran, iran — Iran Tuesday condemned as “interfering” a French Foreign Ministry statement accusing it of “state hostage-taking” and “blackmail” in the detention of four French nationals.

“We strongly condemn such unprofessional, interfering and inappropriate positions while resorting to false references,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told state news agency IRNA.

“The people mentioned in the statement of the French Foreign Ministry were arrested based on solid evidence and witnesses, and the French government is well aware of their crimes.”

Teacher Cecile Kohler and her partner, Jacques Paris, were detained in Iran in May 2022. They are accused of seeking to stir up labor unrest, accusations their families vehemently deny.

“France condemns this policy of state hostage-taking and this constant blackmail by the Iranian authorities,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on May 7, calling for the couple’s release.

Kanani called on the French “to avoid resorting to such statements and using words outside of diplomatic decency, which have negative consequences on relations between the two countries.”

Kohler and Paris both made televised confessions after their arrests that France described as “forced.”

Two other French citizens are held by Iran: a man identified only by his first name, Olivier, and Louis Arnaud, a banking consultant who was sentenced to five years in jail on national security charges last year.

The four are among at least a dozen European passport holders in Iranian custody, some of them dual nationals.

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