PARIS, March 8 (Reuters) – Iran has sentenced Franco-Irish national Bernard Phelan to 6.5 years in prison for “giving information to another country”, his sister said in a statement, adding that her 64-year-old brother was in danger. of death in custody.
Relations between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months with Tehran arresting seven French nationals in what Paris has said are arbitrary arrests that are tantamount to taking hostages by the state.
One of them, Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah, was released, but it is still unclear how long she will have to stay in Iran before returning to France.
“Franco-Irish national Bernard Phelan has just been sentenced to 6.5 years in prison in Iran for providing information to an enemy country,” Caroline Phelan said in a statement.
“He was promised an early release on health grounds before that was cancelled.”
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Phelan, a tourism consultant, was arrested in early October as anti-government protests spread across the country.
France has requested that local authorities provide him with emergency medical care due to a heart condition.
His sister said his eyesight had now deteriorated and he was in danger of dying.
A spokesman for Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said the government was extremely concerned about the case, particularly given Phelan’s poor health.
Iranian judicial authorities and the French foreign ministry did not immediately comment.
Phelan’s sentence comes just days after a second French national, Benjamin Briere, who has been held in prison since May 2020 after being sentenced to eight years, was acquitted of all charges and ordered to be released from prison, the lawyer said. his in a statement on March 2. .
However, he has remained in custody without giving reasons for his continued detention.
In recent years, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on espionage and security-related charges.
Human rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran, which does not recognize dual citizenship, denies taking prisoners to gain diplomatic influence.
Reporting by John Irish Editing by Christina Fincher
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