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France slams Iran after video appears to show ‘forced confession’

Emmanuel Macron (Remi Jouan/WikiCommons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Video from Iranian state media showing two French citizens “confessing” to being spies fomenting unrest in Iran has been condemned by France, which called the video “shameful.”

The video released by the state-run IRNA news agency on October 6 showed Cecile Kohler and Jacques Paris, who are unionists associated with France’s National Federation of Education, Culture and Vocational Training, confessing to acting on behalf of a French security service.

Iran, which has seen waves of unrest in recent months over poor living conditions, economic woes, and government policies limiting women’s rights, has long used Westerners detained on opaque charges as bargaining chips in negotiations.

Kohler and Paris were arrested in early May in Tehran while on vacation sightseeing in the Islamic republic. Iranian officials have offered no public evidence to support the spying accusations.

In the video released on October 6, Kohler wears a head scarf and purportedly describes herself as an “intelligence and operation agent of the French foreign security service.” Paris purportedly says: “Our goals in the French foreign security service is to put pressure on Iran’s government.”

The French government immediately slammed the videos, which are part of a documentary expected to be released soon, saying the two “have been arbitrarily detained in Iran since May 2022, and as such are state hostages.”

“The staging of their supposed confessions is shameful, revolting, unacceptable and contrary to international law,” it added.

The video comes amid current protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while in custody after being detained by the country’s notorious morality police for improperly wearing a head scarf.

Iran has repeatedly accused outside forces of stoking the protests and last week said nine foreign nationals — including people from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland — had been arrested. Iran has not shown any evidence to back up its claim.