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Source: BBC

Jun 13, 2024

French citizen returns home freed by Iran

By George Wright, BBC News

A French banking consultant who spent almost two years in detention in Iran has been released and has arrived home at an airport near Paris, French TV pictures show.

Louis Arnaud, who is in his 30s, was arrested in September 2022 - accused of participating in anti-government protests and of contributing to anti-government propaganda.

Arnaud was sentenced to five years in jail in 2023.

He was shown being reunited with his parents at Le Bourget airport on Thursday morning.

"Louis Arnaud is free. He will be in France tomorrow after a long incarceration in Iran," President Emmanuel Mr Macron posted earlier on X.

The president thanked Oman for helping to secure his freedom and urged Iran to release three other French prisoners.

The three others are teacher Cécile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris, and a man identified only by his first name, Olivier.

"This evening, I also think of Cécile, Jacques and Olivier. I am calling on Iran to liberate them without delay," Mr Macron said.

Mr Arnaud's family stated in the past that he was celebrating the birthday of one of a group of backpackers he had met on his travels when they were stopped by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. All of the others who were detained, including other foreigners, have since been released.

His arrest took place as protests started to sweep across Iran in 2022, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody.

Mr Arnaud was held at the notorious Evin prison in the capital, Tehran, which has long been criticised by rights groups.

Human Rights Watch has accused authorities at the prison of using threats of torture and of indefinite imprisonment, as well as lengthy interrogations and denial of medical care for detainees.

The release comes as bilateral relations between Paris and Tehran have deteriorated in recent months.

France has said the detention of its citizens are arbitrary arrests equivalent to state hostage taking. It's also increasingly concerned by Iran's activities in the Middle East and the advance of its nuclear programme.

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