Iranian state television on Thursday aired a video showing two French citizens arrested for spying amid ongoing protests roiling the country, in a move that Paris condemned as “shameful, revolting, and unacceptable.”
Clips released by the state-run IRNA news agency showed two French citizens – Cecile Kohler and Chuck Paris – in what the channel called “confessions,” AP News reported.
The video resembled other videos of what Tehran has forced prisoners to make.
Iran has been criticized for baseless arrests made to gain leverage in negotiations over releasing Iranian prisoners in other countries.
In November 2020, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic arrested in Iran on a charge of espionage, was released in a prisoner swap in exchange for three Iranian prisoners in Thailand, two of whom were convicted in connection with a 2012 Bangkok bomb plot.
“I know what I was traded for. I’m glad to be home, but I don’t think it was the right way to do it,” Moore-Gilbert told i24NEWS.
“I still have friends who have been imprisoned in Iran for five years, arrested for espionage. But I don’t think there should be a prisoner swap for them. It only plays into the [Iranian] regime’s hands.”
In 2020, one report suggested authorities over the last decade aired at least 355 coerced confessions.
In the aired clips, Kohler wore a headscarf and described herself as an “intelligence and operation agent of French foreign security service.” Paris said: “Our goal in French foreign security service is to put pressure on Iran’s government.”
In May, the French government demanded their release and condemned “these baseless arrests.” Their visit to Iran coincided with months of protests by teachers for higher wages in the country.
Meanwhile, unrest in the Islamic Republic churns on over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd who died in police custody after being detained by the country’s morality police.