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Detained in Iran for 570 days, Benjamin Brière begins a hunger strike

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In a jail renowned for its overcrowded cells, without knowing the language of its fellow prisoners, without being able to speak with its family, faced with charges without proof, without explanations and awaiting a trial whose outcome remains uncertain. This is the reality that Benjamin Brière has been living for nearly two years, in Vakilabad prison, in Mashhad in northeastern Iran.

An untenable situation which pushed her to begin a hunger strike on December 25. ” While it was agreed that we call each other for the holidays, the authorities refused to, explains her sister Blandine to Marianne by telephone. It was too much abuse. He is now putting his life on the line to try to get things done.

Abuse, he suffers on a daily basis: from the broken promise of a phone call, to the refusal of access to outdoor activities or the ban on watching television. “ He fights every day to get those mic rights continues Blandine Brière. It’s full of little details like that that are psychological torture. “

Added to this are the prison conditions that his sister describes as ” very hard “: ” He is in a cell with about twenty prisoners where there is no bed for everyone. No one speaks his language or English and he does not know Persian. A few books or letters from his relatives, which the consul brings him from time to time, are the few links he has left with the world.

The road trip goes wrong

In 2018, Benjamin Brière embarked on a long journey in a van, through Europe and the Middle East. He has been imprisoned since May 26, 2020 in Iran for having photographed prohibited areas, and for having published messages on social networks, questioning the obligation of the Islamic veil. Accused of espionage and propaganda against the regime, he faces a sentence of up to 3 years in prison.

Refuting the charges, Blandine Brière is categorical: ” At first we thought it was a misunderstanding that was going to dissipate, in the end, we realize that Benjamin is taken hostage. It is hostage to political conflicts between countries.

READ ALSO : French detained in Iran for a year: Benjamin Brière, bargaining chip for the regime?

All the more reason to delay the trial date? Possible answers Me Saïd Dehghan, one of his lawyers, contacted by Marianne: ” The legal authorities tell us that they are awaiting additional information from the intelligence services. While the interrogations were conducted in part by intelligence agents. Benjamin spent more than a month of interrogations in their office . “Before adding:” I’ve had many foreign and bi-national clients, and from memory, none of these cases took so long before the trial took place.

“A hostage-taking while waiting for an event”

For Maître Dehghan, everything suggests that the Iranian authorities are waiting for a gesture from the French government: “ Benjamin’s accusations are political and baseless. He was accused of espionage, but no evidence was brought into the case. From a legal point of view, all this makes no sense. It’s more like taking a hostage while waiting for an event.

A breakthrough in nuclear negotiations? Or an exchange of detainees like Iran is used to doing? One thing seems certain: Benjamin’s mental health is deteriorating day by day. ” It’s been sinking for a few weeks, laments his sister. He was strong enough until then to tell himself that it was going to work out, but now he’s fed up. He does not see any evolution, and that is why he comes to endanger his health and his life. He’s been asking us for months if anything’s going on, if we’ve got anything new, and I’m unable to give him concert details. It’s very hard for him to hold on.

Distraught, the Brière family calls on the French state to step up its efforts. ” We know that our government is doing what is necessary to change the situation.said Blandine Briere. But that is no longer enough, that is not enough for Benjamin. My brother stopped eating because he lost all hope. Things really need to change. “

READ ALSO : “Iran is a few months away from the atomic bomb”

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