Iran’s hardliner Judiciary says two French and one Belgian national have been indicted for “espionage and working against Iran’s national security”.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Judiciary Spokesman Masoud Setayeshi said the two French citizens have been indicted, but no verdict has been issued for them yet.

Regarding the Belgian national, Setayeshi said he was indicted and as soon as the verdict is issued the judiciary will announce it.

However, Setayeshi did not identify the detainees and did not provide any more information about their charges.

On the issue of almost 40 other detained foreign nationals, Setayeshi said they have been arrested in different regions of the country and are accused of different charges. He said the number of those other nationals is “limited” and the judiciary will give more information about their status in future.

Following Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s lead, Iranian officials claim that the ongoing antigovernment protests across Iran – ignited by death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini -- are instigated by foreign enemies.

After the outbreak of protests, Iran said in late September it had detained nine foreign nationals linked to unrest, including those from France, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, several foreigners visiting Iran have disappeared, confirming earlier reports that the Islamic Republic is taking foreign citizens hostage.

Tehran denies any policy of hostage taking and insists all foreigners are tried according to legal process. However, it has frequently shown readiness for prisoner exchanges and participated in swaps in the past.

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