Families accuse EU of ‘ignoring’ four Europeans held by Iran

Families of four Europeans imprisoned in Iran ask the EU to negotiate their release during the nuclear deal talks.

The families of four Europeans imprisoned in Iran for several years have accused the European Union of ignoring the plight of their loved ones.

An open letter by the families was sent to EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell amid the talks on the Iranian nuclear deal.

“We, the families of French, Swedish, German, and Austrian citizens, who have been illegally detained by the Iranian regime, are outraged that the European Union seems to be ignoring these crimes,” the families said in the letter.

“All of them wonder whether EU officials have forgotten them and how much longer they will have to endure this ordeal,” they added.

The letter was signed by the sister of French citizen Benjamin Briere, the wife of Austrian Kamran Ghaderi, the wife of Swede Ahmadreza Djalali and the daughter of German citizen Jamshid Sharmahd.

Briere has been detained since May 2020 and sentenced to eight years in jail on spying charges while Ghaderi has been held for almost seven years since January 2016.

Djalali has been in jail for six years and is awaiting execution in Iran on charges of spying for Israel leading to the killing of nuclear scientists.

Sharmahd has been arrested in late July 2020 as Iran accused him of bombing a mosque in 2008 that killed 14 people and wounded more than 200 others.

“These European citizens have been subjected to torture, grossly unfair trials based on fabricated charges, without access to legal counsel or proper medical care,” said the letter.

“All of them are held hostage by a dictatorial regime that does not even abide by the minimum standard of international legal and human rights.”

Iran has insisted the foreign nationals are being held fully in line with the law, but campaigners countered that, in the past, the republic has readily released foreigners in prisoner swaps or in apparent exchange for funds.

Borrell said on Monday he was “less confident” about efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, which was unilaterally abandoned by former US President Donald Trump in 2018.

According to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), there are currently about 20 dual nationals and foreign nationals with US or European passports detained in Iran.