French-Irish tour operator Bernard Phelan, who has been detained in Iran for the past three months, was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” his sister said Wednesday.
Phelan’s family Irish Times about a diplomatic dispute in which he is involved.
according to Times64-year-old Phelan, was arrested by Iranian police on 3 October. Times report.
Iran has leveled multiple charges against Phelan, including spreading propaganda against Iran and taking photos of police officers, all of which he denies.
Irish security sources believe he was detained on trumped-up charges to send a message to the French government.
Phelan lives in France and arrived in Iran with a French passport.
In September Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman, died in police custody. She had been detained by the country’s morality police for violating her dress code, and her death sparked ongoing protests in Iran and around the world.
Tehran has accused France, among other Western countries, of trying to incite the protests, but the French government has said at least seven of its own citizens are being held hostage by the state.
Irish and French diplomats have worked behind the scenes to secure Phelan’s release. Times report.
Phelan was arrested on 3 October on suspicion of taking pictures of a burned mosque with a police officer while traveling in Mashhad city as part of a research trip. Irish Times report.
The newspaper reported that Phelan was held in solitary confinement for two weeks before being transferred to Vakilabad Prison.
After a month in custody, authorities accused Phelan of being involved in propaganda against the Iranian regime and photographing him. Guardian newspaper, Times report.
“This is a political issue,” said Caroline Masé Ferrand, sister of Bernard Ferrand. Times“On the Irish side, Iran has pretty good relations with Ireland, so there is no reason for him to be detained. He should be released.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Times “We are aware of the incident and are working closely with France to provide consular assistance.
The French and Iranian embassies in Dublin did not respond to requests for comment.
His family told the newspaper that he had received only two phone calls from Phelan in the 84 days he had been in custody.
“Bernard was supposed to be with me for my 97th birthday and Christmas in November,” Vincent Phelan, Bernard’s father, said Tuesday. I’m worried.”