Iran Takes Two More French Citizens Hostage

Regime’s Increasingly Provocative Behavior Suggests Failure Of Piecemeal Approach 

(New York, N.Y.) — France confirmed last week that two more of its citizens, Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, had been arrested by the Iranian regime just days before a visit to Tehran by European Union Political Director Enrique Mora, who coordinates negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) claimed the two had entered Iran to undermine Iranian society and had met with the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations, which has organized numerous demonstrations.

Kohler is an educator who heads the largest federation of teachers’ unions in France. Paris is her husband or partner, according to reports. They join French national Benjamin Brière, French-Iranian anthropologist Fariba Adelkhah, and approximately two dozen other Americans or Europeans being held as hostages by the Iranian regime on trumped-up charges for political leverage. In 2020, Tehran executed French resident and Iranian dissident Ruhollah Zam after kidnapping him in Iraq.  

Days before seizing Kohler and Paris, Tehran announced its intention to move forward with executing Swedish-Iranian hostage Ahmadreza Djalali by May 21. This increasingly provocative and escalatory behavior from Tehran demonstrates the regime’s malign behavior and its unworthiness of international legitimacy or trust, including in nuclear talks. 

On May 12, the French foreign ministry “condemn[ed]” what it called a “groundless arrest” and “call[ed] for [the detainees’] immediate release.” This week, the U.S. Department of State echoed that demand and noted Iran’s “long history of unjustly imprisoning foreign nationals in an attempt to use them as political leverage.” Efforts to release all of Iran’s hostages, however, are still being managed individually rather than collectively between the U.S., U.K., and EU, which limits the pressure that can be brought to bear.  

Following a five-day hunger strike in January 2022, Iran Hostage Crisis survivor and UANI Senior Advisor Barry Rosen called for the U.S. and its allies to abandon their piecemeal approach to addressing Iran’s hostage-taking in the Washington Post, writing, “Tehran should be confronted with a multilateral effort. Americans, British, French, Austrians, Canadians, Swedes and Germans — all of whom count their fellow citizens as hostages in Iran — should band together to bring pressure. Strength is in numbers.”  

To read UANI’s resource Hostages In Iran, please click here. 

To read UANI’s profile of Cécile Kohler and Jacques Paris, please click here. 

To read UANI’s profile of Ahmadreza Djalali, please click here.