Iran's state television on Tuesday showed a 3-minute report on the recent arrest of two French citizens, saying they were spies who had tried to stir up unrest.
Iran's intelligence ministry had said on May 11 it had arrested two Europeans for allegedly fomenting "insecurity" in Iran, but had not revealed their nationalities.
The arrest took place as the European Union chief nuclear negotiator Enrique Mora was visiting Tehran to revive the Vienna negotiations stalled since mid-March. Earlier Iran had threatened to execute a Sweidsh Iranian dual national arrested since 2016 and condemned to death on unproven charges of espionage for Israel.
Security detainees in Iran do not receive fair and open trials, with defense attorneys chosen by the government, and often left without pertinent information relating to their clients’cases.
France has condemned their detention as baseless and demanded the immediate release of the French couple, in an incident likely to complicate ties between Iran and Europe as the nuclear talks remain dormant. France, along with Germanu and the United Kingdom are participants in the nuclear talks.
On Tuesday, state television named the two as Cecile Kohler, 37, and her partner Jacques Paris, 69, adding that "the two spies intended to foment unrest in Iran by organising trade union protests". Iran's judiciary has yet to comment on the matter.
In Paris, there was no immediate response from the French Foreign Ministry to a request for comment on Iranian television's assertions, Reuters said.
In recent months, Iranian teachers across the country have staged protests demanding better wages and working conditions, as 40-percent inflation. Dozens of them have been arrested.
"They traveled to Iran as tourists ... But they took part in anti-government protests and met members of the so-called Teachers' Association," it said, showing Kohler and Paris apparently talking in a meeting with what it said were protesting Iranian teachers. An audio recording was released that seemed to be bits and pieces from undetermined conversation.
The TV footage showed what it said was their arrival at Tehran's International Imam Khomeini Airport on April 28 with Turkish Airlines from Turkey, as well as their arrest on their way to the airport on May 7.
Christophe Lalande, federal secretary of France's FNEC FP-FO education union, told Reuters on May 12 he suspected that one of his staffers and her husband were missing on a holiday in Iran.
Two other French nationals are held in Iran on national security charges their lawyers say are politically motivated.
Apparently, Mora intended to discuss the issue of foreigners held by Iran during his visit last week, but he did not mention the topic after his return.
Rights groups have accused Iran of trying to extract concessions from other countries through such arrests. Iran has repeatedly dismissed the chargé, but recently released two British Iranian detainees after London paid a $520million old debt.
Western powers have long demanded that Tehran free their citizens, who they say are political prisoners. The United States has acknowledged that the issue of de-facto hostages held by Iran has been discussed on the sidelines of the nuclear negotiations.