Frenchman imprisoned in Iran for spying goes on hunger strike

By Michael Fitzpatrick - RFI

Benjamin Brière, the French tourist who was jailed in Iran in May, 2020, has been on hunger strike since 28 January. Announcing the development, his sister Blandine Brière and the imprisoned man's legal team said it was the only protest available to him.

"Benjamin has no other choice," his sister said, announcing her brother's decision.

The 37 year-old is being held on espionnage charges "without substance, in the wake of a show trial by the Guardians of the Revolution," his legal team added, saying Brière felt he was nothing but a political hostage for Iranian political interests.

Brière's lawyer went on to say that his client "had come to the end of his physical and mental resources," worn out by months of captivity in a "gloomy" prison known to be a centre for the extrajudicial elimination of opponents of theTehran régime.

The lawyer, Philippe Valent, added that his client's fundamental rights were ignored on a daily basis. 

Brière, who was sentenced to eight years in jail for espionage, is held in the prison of Vakilabad in the eastern city of Mashhad, and had already gone on hunger strike once before, at the end of December 2021.

Losing hope

"He feels that this hunger strike is the only weapon he can use to protest the absurdity and hardship of his situation.

"He is losing hope of seeing this situation resolved," the lawyer added. "Political efforts have so far proved ineffective."

Brière's lawyer called for an effort to make the Iranian regime "responsible for the impact on my client's physical and psychological health, both endangered as long as he remains imprisoned.

French diplomatic efforts to free Benjamin Brière and the six other French nationals in Iranian jails have been unremitting but unsuccessful.

France believes Iran has arbitrarily arrested French nationals in order to use the victims in exchange for the release of Iranians held in France, some of them convicted on terrorism charges.