France has furiously denounced Iran after it aired the ‘staged’ confessions of two teachers accused of spying on state television.
The pair had been seized by Iranian security forces and accused of plotting a revolution for the French secret service.
Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris appeared on Iranian state television channel Al-Alam yesterday, on Thursday, 6th October.
Kohler said in the footage (in French): “My name is Cecile Kohler. I am an intelligence and operations agent at the DGSE [Directorate General for External Security]… We were in Iran to prepare the conditions for the revolution and for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.”
The DGSE is France’s foreign intelligence agency and the equivalent to the UK’s MI6 and the USA’s CIA.
She also said in the footage that she and her partner had been tasked with financing strikes and protests, and even to use weapons “if necessary to fight against the police”.
According to Paris in the footage, the goal of the DGSE was to “put pressure on the government” of Iran.
The Ministry of Intelligence of Iran had previously said in May that it had detained two Europeans, accusing them of fomenting “insecurity” in Iran.
The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly criticised the footage, calling it “a disgraceful, revolting, and unacceptable staging that was a violation of international law.”
The ministry added: “This masquerade reveals the contempt for human dignity that characterises the Iranian authorities.”
The ministry called for the two French citizens to be released.
A French union source had identified the pair as Cecile Kohler, a leader of the FNEC FP-FO (National Federation of Education, Culture and Vocational Training-Workers’ Force) teachers’ union, and her spouse, Jacques Paris, according to French newspaper Le Monde.
Jacques Paris was formerly secretary-general of the colleges and high schools division (SNFOLC), according to the independent Iranian news organisation IranWire.
The Federal Secretary of the FNEC FP-FO education union, Christophe Lalande, confirmed that Kohler had been on holiday with her husband and had failed to return.
French media also visited the high school where she works and one unnamed student reportedly said: “She’s an ordinary person. She’s a teacher.”
While another added: “I didn’t know Iran had taken our teacher hostage.”
The unnamed French union source also reportedly told Le Monde that the couple had been sightseeing in Iran during the Easter holidays at the time of their arrest.
France has repeatedly condemned their detention and repeatedly demanded that Kohler, 37, and her partner Paris, 69, be immediately released.
Protests erupted in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini on 16th September, with the Iranian regime frequently blaming countries in the rest for urging them on.
Mahsa, 22, was declared brain dead and died in hospital three days after apparently being beaten by Iran’s morality police.
She had been detained for what was described as a ‘re-education class’ after she was arrested next to a metro station in Tehran for failing to adhere to Iran’s strict hijab rules on 13th September.
Hours later she was in hospital with a skull fracture “caused by a direct blow” and internal bleeding, according to hacked CT scans obtained by a London-based news organisation known as Iran International.
Doctors went on to say that Mahsa had blood and fluid in her lungs because she went into a coma soon after receiving a blow to the head, according to the news organisation.
United States National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, wrote in a tweet that Iranian authorities should be held accountable for human rights violations.
Tehran officials reportedly at first said that Mahsa died of a heart attack and went on to say that she suffered from epilepsy, a claim that her father has denied.
All women, including tourists, have had to wear a headscarf in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Mahsa’s death caused outrage around the world and sparked protests in Iran, with the country shutting down parts of the internet in a bid to disrupt the growing protest movement.
A growing list of celebrities have voiced their support for the protests and for Mahsa.
They include former First Lady of the United States and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, British Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner, American model Bella Hadid, Hollywood icon Sharon Stone, pop star Justin Bieber, Oscar-winner Jessica Chastain, Kim Kardashian, Turkish singer Melek Mosso, Penelope Cruz, Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, actress Eva Mendes, and the British Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, among others.