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INTERNATIONAL

Iran arrests Spanish hiker walking to Qatar World Cup

A Spanish football fan who set out to walk to Qatar to watch the World Cup has been arrested in Iran, his mother said after he dropped out of contact for several weeks.

Iran arrests Spanish hiker walking to Qatar World Cup
Sánchez Cogedor had been documenting his journey on Instagram and in his last post on October 1st, he said he was about to enter Iran from a northern Iraqi village. Screenshot: Santiago Sánchez Cogedor/Instagram

Santiago Sánchez Cogedor left his hometown near Madrid in January, hoping to make the epic journey in time for the November 20 competition.

But his family had not heard from him for almost a month.

“The foreign ministry confirmed he was being held in Iran and that his state of health was good,” Celia Cogedor told Spanish TV channel Trece late on Thursday.

The Spanish ambassador to Iran is taking steps to “ask the Iranian authorities for authorisation to visit him”, she added, without saying what he is accused of or where he is being held.

Cogedor had been documenting his journey on Instagram and in his last post on October 1st, he said he was about to enter Iran from a northern Iraqi village.

He then told his parents in a voice message that he was going to Tehran, before heading to the port of Bandar Abbas to take a boat to Qatar.

Iran has been gripped by six weeks of protests and a deadly crackdown from security forces after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody.

She had been arrested by the notorious morality police for allegedly breaching the country’s dress code for women.

Tehran mainly accuses the United States of being behind the demonstrations.

Last month Iranian authorities announced the arrest of nine foreigners, including from Poland, Italy and France, allegedly in connection with the protest movement.

The Spanish foreign ministry refused a request for comment, referring AFP back to Cogedor’s family.

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INTERNATIONAL

Supporters call on Iran to release Spanish football fan

Relatives and friends of Spanish football fan Santiago Sánchez, arrested in Iran on his way to the Qatar World Cup, demanded his release during a rally outside Tehran's embassy in Madrid on Sunday.

Supporters call on Iran to release Spanish football fan

“Your family calls for your immediate release,” read a large banner held by several of his relatives, who joined dozens of others for a protest outside the embassy in a residential area.

“My wish for Christmas, of course, is for my son to return. I don’t want (to win) lotteries or anything, I want my son,” Celia Cogedor, Sánchez’s mother, told reporters.

Sánchez left his hometown near Madrid in January, hoping to walk to Qatar in time for the World Cup, which kicked off on November 20th.

He was arrested in early October in Iran after taking a photo of the grave of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd whose September 16 death sparked weeks of protests in the Islamic republic, his mother said.

READ MORE: Iran arrests Spanish hiker walking to Qatar World Cup

“In no way was it intended to harm the Iran state’s security,” Cogedor said at the rally.

She also said she was able to speak briefly with her son in recent days and learned he was in “good health”.

“We are asking (the Iranian authorities) to realise that he is not a political activist,” said Jose Felix, a 53-year-old friend of Sánchez, holding a banner reading “Freedom for Santiago”.

Several European citizens, including another Spaniard, have been arrested in connection with the protests in Iran.

Amini had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.

Hundreds of people have been killed while thousands of individuals have been detained during the protests in Iran.

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