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French-Iranian, German Citizens Reportedly Arrested In Iran

Le Figaro reported that the arrests were made to use as leverage for the sentencing of Iranian diplomat Assadolah Assadi.

A French-Iranian dual citizen and a German national were arrested in Iran more than two weeks ago, a French newspaper reported on February 19.

Without citing its sources, the Le Figaro daily said the two individuals were detained before February 4 as leverage in anticipation of the sentencing of Iranian diplomat Assadolah Assadi by a Belgian court that day.

Assadi was handed 20 years in prison for planning to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France in 2018, a sentence that was "strongly" condemned by the Iranian government.

Le Figaro did not name the two individuals or their places of detention, but said the French-Iranian national was arrested while flying a small drone in the desert.

French, German, or Iranian officials have not commented on the report yet.

In recent years, Iran has imprisoned a number of dual nationals, mostly on espionage charges.

Critics say Iran arbitrarily detains dual nationals as part of hostage diplomacy to extract political concessions from Western countries, which Tehran denies.

If confirmed, the arrests of the French and German nationals would come at a sensitive time.

The new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has signaled it was ready to talk with Iran about how both nations could return to a 2015 agreement that called for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

With reporting by Le Figaro and Reuters