French tourist Benjamin Briere, who has been in an Iranian prison since spring last year on spying charges, has begun a hunger strike, his lawyer and sister have said.

A French Foreign Ministry spokesperson said December 27 that French authorities maintain close contact with Briere, visiting him on December 21 and contacting him again on December 27.

The ministry has called the charges against the 36-year-old Frenchman, who is being held in the Valikabad prison in the city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran, “incomprehensible.”

Briere was charged with spying and propaganda against Iran after being arrested in May 2020 when he flew a remote-controlled mini-helicopter in the desert near the Turkmenistan-Iran border. A spying conviction is punishable by death in Iran.

His family says he is an innocent tourist who set out in 2018 on a road trip in his camper van that began in Scandinavia before heading overland towards Iran.

“The feeling of abandonment — and distress — has led Benjamin Briere to embark on a hunger strike in order to alert Iranian and French authorities to the absurdity of his detention,” his sister Blandine Briere and lawyer Philippe Valent said in an e-mailed statement.

Separately, Iranian human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan called for his release on Twitter.

“What is the Mashhad Revolutionary Court waiting for to hear the case against him, who has now been in custody for 570 days ?” Dehghan wrote.

Source » rferl