French Citizen Held in Iranian Jail Finally Released, French Prez Says

Louis Arnaud, a French national held in an Iranian prison for more than 20 months, arrived in Paris on June 13 after the French negotiated his release.

In a June 12 post on social media, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that Arnaud, who had been held since September 2022 along with other Europeans, had been freed from prison with the help of officials in Oman who served as a go-between for the West and Tehran.

Macron also called on Iran to free the other three French nationals still in prison, including Jacques Paris and Cécile Kohler, who were arrested in May 2022.

A French diplomat told AFP that Arnaud was released from Evin prison at dawn last Wednesday and cleared by a doctor for the flight to Oman. From there, Arnaud flew to Paris where he was greeted by his family and French Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Séjourné.

Arnaud, a consultant, was arrested by Iranian police during the protests sparked by the in-custody death of Mahsa Amin, an Iranian woman who was arrested by Iran’s morality police for not wearing a headscarf. The French national was accused of taking part in the unrest that followed Amin’s death.

According to French officials, Cécile Kohler is a teachers union official who was on vacation in Iran in the spring of 2022 with her partner Jacques Paris when they were arrested for protesting alongside Iranian teachers during an anti-government rally.

A third French national, identified by President Macron by the first name Olivier, is also imprisoned in Iran.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Séjourné told reporters last Thursday that France’s diplomatic efforts to secure the release of the other three French prisoners held in Iran were continuing. She said that for now, the French would be “satisfied” by the ”great diplomatic victory” in securing the release of Arnaud.