File photo of a police motorcycle burning during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic’s ‘morality police’, in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022. – Reuters pic
PARIS, Nov 12 – Two more French citizens are likely being held in Iran, taking the total of its nationals detained there to seven, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday.
France lashed out at Iran on October 6 accusing it of “dictatorial practices” and taking its citizens hostage after a video was aired in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying, after weeks of unrest that Iran has linked to foreign foes.
“We have concerns over two other citizens. We are trying to check the contradictory information,” Catherine Colonna told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview.
On Friday, Le Figaro newspaper reported that the two nationals had been arrested prior to the start of anti-government protests in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
The foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive nuclear talks in which France is one of the parties have stalled. Neither country has an ambassador in place.
The protests over Amini’s death while she was in police custody have pushed the EU to follow the United States, Canada and Britain in imposing sanctions on Iran.
A new round of EU sanctions on human rights will be approved at a foreign ministers’ meeting on Monday, two diplomats told Reuters.
The sanctions would see 31 designations for human rights violations that would target individuals and entities covering asset bans and travel freezes, they said.
France has also proposed new designations for those who sell drones to Iran and to sanction people involved in the export of electronic components for drones, one of the diplomats said.
“If its (Iran’s) objective is to blackmail us, then this is the wrong way to go about dealing with France,” Colonna said. – Reuters