PARIS (AP) — France on Thursday called for the “immediate release” of seven French nationals detained in Iran, denouncing an “unjustifiable and unacceptable” situation.
The French “hostages” in Iran include 35-year-old Louis Arnaud, foreign ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said.
Arnaud was arrested Sept. 28 as he was traveling in Iran “for touristic reasons,” Legendre said. He is being detained in “very difficult conditions” in Tehran’s Evin prison, where France’s ambassador to Iran met with him on Dec. 11, she said.
The French government had not previously made Arnaud’s name public, Legendre said.
Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna discussed the detained French nationals in a phone call with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Hossein Amirabdollahian, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs said.
“We are especially worried about Bernard Phélan given his health condition,” Legendre said. The foreign ministry has said the French-Irish citizen, who has been detained in Iran since October, needs “appropriate medical care that is not provided” in prison.
Iran has detained a number of foreigners and dual nationals over the years, accusing them of espionage or other state security offenses and sentencing them after secretive trials in which rights groups say they are denied due process.
The families and support committees of Arnaud and other French people imprisoned in Iran, including Fariba Adelkhah, Benjamin Brière and Cécile Kohler, said they were organizing a Saturday gathering in Paris to draw attention to their cause.
Doctors Without Borders has organized a separate event in Paris that day to show support for Belgian national Olivier Vandecasteele. The aid worker, who worked for the nongovernmental organization for many years, was arrested in Tehran in February 2022.
Doctors without Borders said the conditions of his detention are putting Vandecasteele’s life at risk.