Iran Announces Two French Citizens Arrested And Detained Over Spying: Came As Tourists, Joined Teacher Protests
Ilustrasi bendera Iran. (Wikimedia Commons/Tijl Vercaemer)

JAKARTA - Iranian authorities released details of the arrests of two French nationals earlier this month, calling them "spies" trying to stir up unrest.

Iran's intelligence ministry on May 11 said it had arrested two Europeans, accused of stoking insecurity in Iran. Officials did not disclose their nationalities, reported The National News, May 18.

In this regard, France condemned their detention as unfounded and demanded their immediate release, Reuters reports.

On Tuesday, Iranian state television revealed information about the couple, identifying the two as Cecile Kohler (37) and her partner Jacques Paris (69).

It said "the two spies intended to stoke unrest in Iran by organizing union protests". The Iranian court has not yet commented on the matter.

"They traveled to Iran as tourists. But they took part in anti-government protests and met with members of the so-called Teachers Association," state TV said, showing Kohler and Paris apparently speaking in a meeting with people he said took part in the Iranian teacher protest.

In recent months, teachers in various parts of Iran have protested demanding better wages and working conditions, state media reports show. Dozens of them have been arrested.

TV footage showed what was said to be their arrival from Turkey at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on April 28, as well as their arrest on the way to the airport on May 7.

The detentions come at a sensitive time, as the US and parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal struggle to restore the pact abandoned in 2018 by then US President Donald Trump.

It is known that the two French nationals were arrested a week after a Swedish national was also detained in Iran.

Separately in Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price called for their immediate release.

Meanwhile, Christophe Lalande, federal secretary of France's Fnec FP-FO education union, told Reuters last week on Thursday that he suspected that one of his staff and her husband had gone missing on a holiday in Iran.

Two other French nationals are being held in Iran on national security charges which their lawyers say are politically motivated.

Human rights groups accuse Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Meanwhile, Western powers have long demanded that Tehran release its citizens, who they say are political prisoners.

As previously reported, Iran arrested two European nationals and accused them of trying to destabilize the country. The ministry did not specify the nationalities of the two, but said they entered the country and attempted to approach the teachers' union with the aim of "stirring chaos and destabilizing society."

The ministry described the detainees as "two experienced agents" hired by the intelligence apparatus of European countries. However, the authorities had been after them since their arrival, with all of their ties to the 'Illegal Master League Council' documented.

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