Irish deputy PM presses Iran to release dual national

LONDON (Agencies): Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Micheal Martin has called on Iran to release an Irish citizen arrested during anti-regime protests last year.

Bernard Phelan, 64, was detained on Oct. 3 for allegedly taking photographs of protests, security forces and a mosque that had been set on fire.

Phelan, who also holds French citizenship, went on hunger and water strike on Jan. 1 but suspended his protest last week.

He is known to have chronic heart and bone issues, and French authorities have said they are “extremely worried about his health, which is poor and requires appropriate medical monitoring, which is not ensured in detention.”

He is being held in Vakilabad Prison in Iran’s second-largest city Mashhad, in a cell with 16 other people and which experiences subzero temperatures. Phelan denies charges of spreading anti-regime propaganda and photographing police.

Martin told Irish national broadcaster RTE that Dublin had been “very clear” with Tehran that Phelan should be released.

He added that he had addressed the issue directly with Iran’s ambassador in Dublin, and would continue to press Phelan’s case.

“We are very concerned, we share the concerns of his family and we have made very strong representations to the Iranian authorities for his release on humanitarian grounds,” Martin said.