French traveler jailed in Iran launches hunger strike

A Frenchman held in Iran for more than 18 months on espionage charges he rejects has begun a hunger strike to protest at his detention conditions, his family says.

Benjamin Briere, 36, was arrested in Iran last May, allegedly while flying a drone and taking photographs in a prohibited area.

“Benjamin started the hunger strike on December 25 because he was not allowed to call us for Christmas, but also to draw attention to the mistreatment he has suffered for twenty months,” his sister Blandine Briere tells AFP.

“He sees no evolution in his case.”

His family describes him as an innocent tourist who set out in 2018 on a road trip in his camper van that began in Scandinavia before heading overland toward Iran.

His Iranian lawyer said in May that prosecutors had confirmed he would be tried for espionage as well as “propaganda against the system.” A conviction of espionage is punishable by death in Iran.

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