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Iran Sentences French Citizen to 8 Years for Spying

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FILE - A woman holds a photo of Benjamin Briere during a rally in Paris, France, Jan. 8, 2022.

A French national who has been in Iranian custody since May 2020 was sentenced Tuesday by an Iranian court to eight years and eight months in prison for spying.

Benjamin Briere, 36, was accused by Iranian authorities of flying a drone equipped with a camera near the Turkmenistan-Iran border. He was convicted of spying and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."

His lawyer, Philippe Valent, called the ruling “the result of a purely political process" and said the trial was a “masquerade.”

"Benjamin Briere obviously did not — nor ever — benefit from any form of fair trial before impartial judges," Valent said, noting that Briere was not able to read the indictment, which made preparation for the trial difficult.

Iran’s judiciary was not immediately available for comment, according to Reuters.

Valent said Briere has been on a hunger strike for a month and is increasingly weak.

Agence France-Presse reported that Iran is currently holding more than a dozen Westerners on various charges.

The country has been accused of holding the hostages as leverage in ongoing talks to resuscitate the Iran nuclear deal.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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