Iranian authorities have arrested a left-wing activist suspected of meeting two French nationals detained since May on suspicion of fomenting labour unrest in the sanctions-hit country, state media reported Thursday.
“In a meeting ahead of International Labour Day (1 May), the detainee coordinated his activities with two French spies.”
The broadcaster did not identify the activist nor specify the date of his arrest. It said he had been picked up by intelligence agents in West Azerbaijan province, which borders Turkey.
Iran has been holding French teachers’ union official Cecile Kohler and her partner Jacques Paris since May 7 on suspicion of “entering the country to sow chaos and destabilise society”.
State television has aired footage of the couple from the moment they set foot in Iran on 28 April.
French trade union officials have said the couple were on holiday in Iran over the Easter school break.
The French government has condemned their arrest as “baseless” and demanded their immediate release
Iran’s economy has been reeling under punishing US sanctions imposed since 2018, when then president Donald Trump abandoned a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.
Talks on reviving the agreement with the United States again a party have stalled since March in a blow to hopes of a boost to the economy from an easing of US sanctions.
Iran announced a series of measures to tackle the worsening economy in May, including changes to a subsidy system and increases in the prices of staple goods.
Hundreds protested in Iranian cities, including in Tehran province, state news agency IRNA reported.