Frenchman Benjamin Brière, detained for more than a year and a half in Iran, was sentenced to eight years in prison for ” spying “ by an Iranian revolutionary court, announced Tuesday January 25 his lawyer by denouncing “a charade of trial”.
Benjamin Brière was also sentenced to an additional eight months in prison for “propaganda” against the Iranian regime, said his lawyer, Mr.e Philippe Valent, in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Originally from Lyon, Benjamin Brière, now 36, was arrested in May 2020 for taking “photographs of prohibited areas” with a hobby drone in a natural park in Iran. He is being held in Valikabad prison, in Mashhad (north-east) and has been on hunger strike since the end of December to protest against his conditions of detention. He had appeared last Thursday in court in Mashhad.
“This condemnation, which nothing can support, is unacceptable”, said the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that Benjamin Brière had decided to appeal this decision.
“Benjamin Brière obviously did not – nor ever – benefited from a form of fair trial before impartial judges. As a reminder, he had no right to defend himself, no access to the elements of the accusation, no possibility of preparing and presenting a defense before the judges of the revolutionary court., added M.e Valent, alarmed at his client’s state of health.
“Benjamin Brière’s family today calls on the French authorities to take immediate action to allow his repatriation”, he added.
Blandine Brière, the Frenchman’s sister, considered for her part that her brother was a “political hostage”. “It is clear that this is a useful political trial for Iran, which sends a message to the French government”, she told AFP.
“We are nothing in the face of this, we feel like pawns in a diplomatic game”, she added, while Tehran and the major powers are engaged in extremely delicate negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement, supposed to prevent Tehran from acquiring atomic weapons, and torpedoed by the former US President Donald Trump in 2018.