European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell attends a press conference on the day of EU-Ukraine Association Council in Brussels, Belgium March 20, 2024.

EU's Borrell Demands Iran Release Detained Europeans

Thursday, 06/13/2024

Josep Borrell, the European Union's Foreign Policy Chief, has demanded Iran release its European hostages, including an EU representative.

Following the phone call with Ali Bagheri-Kani, Iran's acting Foreign Minister, on Wednesday, Borrell said the two touched on several topics, in addition to the detention of the EU’s Johan Floderus.

"We had frank exchanges, including on issues pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program, the war in Gaza, and tensions at the Israel-Lebanon border,” he said.

He also used the opportunity to demand the release of European citizens currently imprisoned in Iran, reflecting ongoing European concerns over what many are calling Tehran’s “hostage diplomacy” tactics.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday the release of another French citizen, Louis Arnaud, previously imprisoned in Iran.

Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne also said "Our diplomatic service is still at work" to free three other French citizens: Jacques Paris, Cecile Koller and a man named only as Olivier held in Iranian jails.

Arnaud's case had drawn significant media attention after his arrest in September 2022 during protests over the death of Mahsa Amini—a young Iranian Kurd who died in custody for allegedly violating hijab.

While Arnaud's companions were released shortly after their detention, he was sentenced in November 2022 on charges of “propaganda and harming Iranian state security.” 

At the same time, On Monday, Tehran had announced ongoing efforts to secure the release of Bashir Biazar, a former managing director of Iran's state broadcaster who has been detained in France and is awaiting deportation.

Nasser Kanaani, the spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, said Monday that diplomatic actions have been taken since the moment they were informed of Biazar’s arrest, without elaborating further.

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