French detained in Iran: Benjamin Brière writes to the Iranian president to demand his release
A few lines to describe his despair. Frenchman Benjamin Brieredetained since May 2020 in Mashhad prison, in northeastern Iran, wrote to Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi to request his release, we learned from his sister, Blandine Brière.
Benjamin Brière, 38, was arrested in May 2020 for taking “photographs of prohibited areas” with a recreational drone in a natural park, and sentenced to eight years in prison for “espionage”. He always introduced himself as a tourist. “I appeal to your dignity, in order to obtain my freedom which should have been returned to me a month ago after my acquittal, this same freedom which should never have been torn from me”, he wrote in his letter. Written in Farsi, this handwritten letter was sent to the prison guards on Monday morning, said Blandine Brière, who also published a French copy of this letter.
After more than two and a half years in prison, Benjamin Brière was “acquitted of all charges” on appeal in mid-February but remained behind bars after his trial. After his acquittal, according to Blandine Brière, the detainee was asked to prepare his bag but was taken back to the cell one meter from the exit. In his letter, Benjamin Brière explains that he is all the more “unjustly” imprisoned since he has been acquitted “of all the charges brought and that a release order from the Revolutionary Court of Appeal of Mashhad was signed on 15 last February.
Six French detained by Tehran
He denounces suffering not only an “unfounded” incarceration but also the harshness of his detention accompanied by “psychological violence” and “mental torture” which were “once again” amplified.
The Frenchman also appeals to the president’s “sense of honor” by calling on him to “show by deeds, rather than words, the independence of the Iranian judicial system”. He considers that the latter is fully aware of his innocence, as well as of his acquittal and his hunger strike started on January 28, which he will not renounce “until” his freedom and all his personal effects have not been returned to him. “Time and time again I have read and heard Iranian government officials claim that the judiciary in Iran is totally independent. That no arrest or trial is arbitrary”, continues Benjamin Brière who believes that his case “is proof to the contrary”.
In addition to the 30-year-old, five French nationals remain imprisoned in Iran, since the release on February 10 of the Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah. Paris accuses Tehran to hold them arbitrarily in order to be able to use it as a bargaining chip in international negotiations, while relations between Iran and the West have cooled considerably since the withdrawal of the United States from the project of a nuclear agreement in 2018 .