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Mahsa Amini: France says fifth citizen detained in Iran, EU sanctions to come

Paris confirms for the first time that a fifth citizen has been detained during protests over Mahsa Amini's death
A demonstrator addresses a crowd in Paris during a rally in support of Iranian protests on 9 October 2022 (AFP)
A demonstrator addresses a crowd in Paris during a rally in support of Iranian protests on 9 October 2022 (AFP)

France's foreign minister said on Tuesday that five of its nationals were being held in Iran and that the European Union (EU) had agreed on the technical aspects to impose sanctions on Tehran, which would come into force next week.

France lashed out at Iran last week, accusing it of "dictatorial practices" and taking its citizens hostage after a video was aired in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying.

Iran’s crackdown on demonstrators protesting over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest for wearing an "inappropriate" hijab last month has left scores of people dead, with Tehran linking the unrest to foreign foes.

France subsequently urged its nationals to leave Iran as soon as possible, saying they were exposed to the risk of arbitrary detentions.

"I hope to speak to the Iranian foreign minister today to ask once again for the immediate release of all our compatriots, who are held in Iran," Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Catherine Colonna told France Inter radio. "There are currently five."

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Until now, Paris had not confirmed that a fifth citizen had been detained during the protests.

Amini was arrested on 13 September by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran's strict dress code for women.

Iran said last month that nine Europeans had been arrested in the subsequent unrest.

Relations between Paris and Tehran have deteriorated in recent weeks as efforts to revive nuclear talks in which France is one of the parties have stalled. Neither country has an ambassador in place.

Iran condemns UK sanctions

The protests have pushed the EU to follow the United States, Canada, and Britain in imposing sanctions.

"The EU agreed yesterday on the technical aspects of a sanctions package that will target those behind the repression. It will be validated on Monday," Colonna said, referring to an upcoming meeting of EU foreign ministers.

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Iran on Monday condemned Britain's decision to impose sanctions on its morality police, saying it had summoned the British ambassador to Tehran and describing the newly imposed sanctions as "baseless".

Britain had said earlier on Monday it was slapping sanctions on the "morality police in its entirety," as well as Iran's police commander and the head of the Basij militia linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In a statement, Iran said it had informed the British ambassador of Tehran's "strong protest to London for interfering in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Dozens of people have been killed in protests triggered by Amini's death, including 18 security personnel, according to authorities, and hundreds of people have been arrested, in what the government calls "riots".

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