July 1, 2022

Frenchman Benjamin Brière, detained since May 2020 in Iran, sentenced to eight years in prison for “espionage”

He also received an additional eight months in detention for “propaganda”. He had been arrested while taking photos with a drone in a natural park, in “prohibited areas”, according to the Iranian authorities.

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His relatives hoped “the end of this calvary”. But Benjamin Brière, a 36-year-old Frenchman detained since May 2020 in Iran, was sentenced to eight years in prison for “spying”, and eight additional months for “propaganda”, by a revolutionary court, announced his French lawyer, Philippe Valent, Tuesday, January 25. The latter denounces “a charade of trial”.

Benjamin Brière, who always presented himself as a tourist, was arrested for taking “photographs of prohibited areas” with a hobby drone in a natural park in Iran. Espionage is punishable by death in this country.

A hearing was held Thursday in Mashhad, the city in northeastern Iran where he is being held, in the presence of Benjamin Brière’s Iranian lawyer and an interpreter. “We have no details as to the course of this hearing, nor any requisitions, for or against Benjamin Brière, or the possibility given to him to present his defense”, explained Philippe Valent.

The Frenchman had started a hunger strike at the end of December to protest against his conditions of detention. According to the network of exiled activists HRNA, it is still ongoing.

Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured that its services were monitoring the situation of the French “with the greatest attention” and that the embassy maintained “regular contacts” with him. The Quai d’Orsay says it received two consular visits on December 21 and January 17.

Benjamin Brière is one of two French nationals currently detained in Iran. The second, the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, was reincarcerated in January after having, according to the Iranian authorities, violated the rules of her house arrest.