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Louis Arnaud, French man held in Iran, released and headed back to France

By RFI
France © Stephane de Sakutin/AFP
THU, 13 JUN 2024 LISTEN
© Stephane de Sakutin/AFP

A French citizen detained in Iran since September 2022 is on his way home, back to France. French President Emmanuel Macron, announcing the release, urged the Islamic Republic to free three other detained French people “without delay”.

"Louis Arnaud is free,” Macron wrote on X, thanking Oman for helping to secure "this happy outcome".

Arnaud, a banking consultant in his 30s who was arrested in September 2022 while travelleing in the country, was sentenced to five years in prison last year on national security charges.

His arrest came amidst protests in 2022 over the death in custody of a woman who was arrested for allegedly violating Iran's strict dress rules for women.

Arnaud's family, who petitioned the UN to push for his release, said that he had not been involved politically and had been careful at the time, and had "kept a distance from the social movements”.

A petition last year calling on his release gathered 100,000 signatures.

Macron said Arnaud, who was held in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, would be in France Thursday.

He is one of four French citizens – Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris, and a man identified only by his first name, Olivier – who had been held by Iran.

"Tonight, I am thinking also of Cecile, Jacques and Olivier. I call on Iran to release them without delay," Macron said.

In recent years, dozens of dual nationals and foreigners have been arrested, mostly on charges related to espionage and security – Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

France has called the arrests "state hostage taking" and rights groups have accused Iran of arresting people for diplomatic leverage over other countries, a claim that Iran has denied.

(with newswires)

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