Ireland’s foreign minister said on Thursday he was doing everything he could to secure the release of a Franco-Irish national held in Iran after his family urged Dublin to intensify negotiations over concerns about his health following a hunger strike.
Michael Martin said at a press conference in Dublin that we “will do everything we can” to help release Paris-based travel consultant Bernard Phelan, 64, who was arrested while traveling around Iran in October. -regime protests
“I think we’ve been very active in dealing with Bernard’s situation,” Martin told reporters. “We asked the Iranian government to release him on humanitarian grounds, and we are waiting for a response from the Iranian Foreign Minister. We also talked to the ambassador here.”
Martin’s comments followed a request by Phelan’s sister, Caroline Masse-Phelan, from Dublin to speed up negotiations with Tehran.
“Accelerate negotiations with the Iranian authorities to get Bernard out of there. His health is extremely poor after the hunger and thirst strike,” Masse-Phelan told RTE radio.
“His health is extremely at risk. And we’re still worried about his life. So climb, climb, climb,” he said, explaining that his brother suffered from heart disease and chronic bone disease.
Phelan, one of seven French nationals detained by Iran, is being held in the northeastern city of Mashhad on a range of charges, including making propaganda critical of Iran’s clergy. He denied all accusations.
“He has been involved in travel and tourism in the sense that he is a person who loves Iran and encourages people to visit Iran in terms of tourism,” said Martin.
At the beginning of the year, dual national Phelan went on a hunger strike and had been refusing to drink water for the past three days.
Masse-Phelan said the family sent a message to his brother through diplomatic channels on Wednesday, enabling him to end the hunger strike.
Earlier, requests to meet the family directly were denied by the Iranian authorities.
He said “stop, eat, drink and it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth losing your life in that situation.”
Speaking to Agence France-Presse on Wednesday, Caroline Masse-Phelan said her sister would not survive more than a few days while on a “dry” hunger strike.
A diplomatic source said Iranian officials have so far refused to release Phelan on medical grounds, despite repeated requests from French and Irish officials.
According to activists, Phelan is one of two dozen foreigners who describe the detainees as “hostages” captured to seek concessions from the West.
Benjamin Briere, a French national who was sentenced to eight years in prison last year on charges of espionage, is also held in the same prison.
Masse-Phelan said his brother was an “innocent pawn in a larger political game” and explained that he had “worked in tourism all his life and promoted Iran as a destination”.