A French citizen released by Iran after three years in jail on trumped-up spying charges is “very weak”, his family have revealed.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday that Benjamin Brière is going free along with fellow Frenchman Bernard Phelan.

The two men are among an unknown numbers of diplomatic hostages held by the regime.

In a statement on Friday, Briere’s family spoke of being able “to hold him in our arms after three years of hell," but added: “He is, however, very weak, physically and morally, a return to normal life will be long and certainly difficult, but now he is in good hands."

A lawyer for Briere said he had become “extremely weak and frail” after a hunger strike, adding: “If the release wouldn’t have happened by now, Benjamin would be at a major life risk.”

Macron tweeted: "We will continue to work towards the return of those of our fellow nationals who are still detained in Iran."

Brière had been held in Iran since May 2020. The traveller and blogger was arrested for allegedly taking photos with a drone in a restricted area near the Turkmenistan-Iran border and sentenced to eight years in jail.

Philippe Valent, his France-based lawyer, called the espionage charges against his client a "fiction" and his trial "a parody staged by the Revolutionary Guard".

Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months. Tehran had detained seven French nationals in what Paris described as arbitrary arrests equivalent to state hostage-taking.

In the past decade, Iran's Revolutionary Guard have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners, mostly on unproven allegations of espionage and breach of security.

IITV News (12) - DC
IITV News (12) - DC

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