Iran jails Irish-French national for 6.5 years as family warns his health is deteriorating

PARIS — Iran has jailed for six and a half years on national security charges an Irish-French citizen held since October, his family says, adding that health problems mean his life is in danger.

Bernard Phelan, a Paris-based travel consultant, was arrested in October in the northeastern city of Mashhad and has been held ever since.

He is one of some two dozen foreigners jailed in Iran who campaigners see as hostages held to extract concessions from the West.

Phelan, 64, is accused of transmitting information to an enemy state, a charge he denies, his family says in a statement.

At an initial hearing on February 20, where he was allowed to be accompanied only by a regime-appointed lawyer, he was sentenced to three and a half years, earning a deduction for health reasons and his age.

But a second hearing on February 26 saw the sentence raised to six and a half years, the family says.

“The health of Bernard is very worrying and his life is in danger,” the family’s statement says.

The family says that his health has “deteriorated considerably” in detention and he needs daily medication for a number of health issues, and that it fears his supplies are running out.

His health issues include cardiovascular problems, hypertension, high risk of stroke and kidney failure and a bone problem that generates significant chronic pain, while his eyesight is also deteriorating.

Phelan went on a dry hunger strike in January to protest his detention but stopped the action at the request of his family, who feared he would die.

With Iran rocked by anti-regime protests since September, Phelan has been accused of taking photos of a burned mosque and police officers, and sending images to a British newspaper, the family says, adding that he denies the accusations.

He has also been accused of taking 900-year-old pieces of pottery from a village, which he also denies, it adds.

Six French citizens, described as “hostages” by the French foreign ministry, are currently held in prison by Iran.

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