France on Wednesday said that an Iranian court had sentenced one of its citizens to five years in prison on a baseless conviction.

“We learned with the greatest concern that Mr. Louis Arnaud had been sentenced to five years in prison,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in a statement.

“This conviction, for which there is nothing to support and the absence of any access to a lawyer, is unacceptable,” she added.

Arnaud was sentenced by a Revolutionary Court on charges of making propaganda against the Islamic Republic and attempting to harm its security, his family said in a statement.

The family said Arnaud was innocent of all charges and denounced the verdict as “an attack on human rights and individual freedoms.”
What happened to Louis Arnaud?

Arnaud, a banking consultant, was arrested in Iran last September and is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison. His family described Arnaud as a “passionate traveler” who had long wanted to visit Iran.

“Unfortunately, his dream turned into a nightmare when he was unjustly targeted, imprisoned, and now convicted on baseless charges, stripping him of his freedom and rights,” the family said.

It insisted he had “kept a distance from the social movements that were starting” while in Iran, in reference to the protest movement that erupted in September 2022.

Aside from Arnaud, three other French citizens are also being held by Iran: teacher Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris and a man identified only by his first name, Olivier.

Iran’s hostage-taking strategy

Arnaud is one of at least a dozen foreigners being held by Tehran in what activists and Western governments have described as a deliberate hostage-taking strategy aimed at extracting concessions from the West.

In recent years, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have detained dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges.

Iran, which does not recognize dual citizenship, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic leverage.

Several foreign prisoners have been released in recent months, including five Americans freed in a complex swap for billions of dollars in Iranian funds frozen in a South Korean account.

Source » dw