Frenchman Benjamin Brière, who entered Iran as a tourist, will be tried for “espionage” and “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”, his lawyer said on Sunday (30).
Brière, 35, was arrested in May 2020, while piloting a drone and taking photos in a no-go area. Espionage is punishable by death in the country, while charges of “propaganda against the system” can carry a prison sentence of three months to a year.
The Frenchman is in Vakilabad prison, in the holy city of Mashhad, located in the northeast of the country.
After a year of investigations in Iranian justice, he will be tried by the country’s revolutionary court. No details were given on the date of the trial and the charges against him, but according to Iranian media, he is accused of taking photos and videos of military areas.
Briere was driving through Iran in his van and was arrested near Mashhad. Along the road between Tehran and the city, there are several important military bases, including ballistic missile sites. He is also accused of having questioned the compulsory wearing of the Islamic headscarf in his publications on social networks.
The trial comes as Iran detains Franco-Iranian researcher Fariba Adelkhah, sentenced to six years in prison for actions against national security and anti-regime propaganda.
In recent years, the country has conducted several exchanges of foreign or binational prisoners with Iranian citizens detained in France, Australia and the United States. However, in early May, an Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, was sentenced in Belgium to 20 years in prison as part of an investigation into a planned attack near Paris against Iranian opponents.
No response from Macron
The announcement comes a few days after the publication, in the French press, of an open letter from Brière’s sister, in which she urges French President Emmanuel Macron to obtain her release, who was imprisoned, she said, “without foundation “and transformed into a” negotiating instrument “.
His French lawyer, Philippe Valent, said that “so far” neither Macron nor the French foreign ministry had responded, “leaving Benjamin’s family even more worried and helpless” in the face of this “arbitrary detention”.
The Frenchman was the target of two other complaints which ended up not being included in the investigation: “corruption on Earth”, one of the most serious of the Iranian penal code, punishable by the death penalty, and consumption of alcohol, punishable by lashes, according to his lawyer in Iran.