Prisoners

Sentence Against French Tourist Benjamin Briere Finalized in Iran

June 28, 2022
IranWire
2 min read
Travel blogger Benjamin Briere was arrested in May 2020 near the Iran-Azerbaijan border
Travel blogger Benjamin Briere was arrested in May 2020 near the Iran-Azerbaijan border

French citizen Benjamin Briere has been sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison in Iran in a final judgment that declared France a “hostile state”, his Iranian lawyer said on Tuesday.

Saied Dehghan wrote on Twitter that his client’s sentence on “spying” and “propaganda against the regime” charges had been finalized by the court, on grounds that also included “sympathy with the victims of the Ukrainian plane [the Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 disaster]”, “IT expertise", and "possession of more than one hard drive and mobile phone”.

Briere, 36, a travel blogger, was arrested in May 2020 and accused of flying a drone in a restricted area near the Iran-Turkmenistan border. He was accused of “acting against national security” and taken to Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad.

His family and lawyer have insisted he is innocent and believe he is being held on “baseless” charges as a hostage, potentially in connection with the nuclear talks, as France is a member of the P5+1.

When the sentence was first handed down by the Revolutionary Court in January, his sister Blandine Briere wrote on Instagram: “This sentence is the result of a purely political process and the result of a mechanism useful to the Iranian regime, devoid of any foundation.

"He never received any form of fair trial before impartial judges. He had no right to defend himself, no access to the particulars of the case. Increasingly weakened by a hunger strike started a month ago, we are now alarmed by his physical and psychological state of health.

"It is not tolerable that Benjamin be held hostage to negotiations by a regime that acts on its desire for the arbitrary detention of a French citizen, just to make them a bargaining chip.”

News of Briere’s sentence being finalized came a day after the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) had called on the European Union to take a firmer stance on intensifying human rights abuses at all levels of society in Iran, regardless of progress in Vienna.

“The silence on human rights on the part of [foreign policy chief Josep] Borell and the EU is deafening,” director Hadi Ghaemi said. “The international community needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. The nuclear negotiations should not preclude attention to the growing human rights catastrophe in Iran.”

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