Iran arrests Spanish woman taking part in protests

A Spanish woman is being held in Iran following the arrest of a Spanish football fan who set out to walk to the World Cup in Qatar, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

A picture obtained by AFP outside Iran shows an Iranian police officer (C) raising a baton to disperse demonstrators during a protest for Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran on September 19, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

“The Spanish embassy in Iran is aware of the two cases. It is following them and we are in close contact with the families”, the Spanish diplomatic source said, without providing further details.

The second Spaniard was identified as a 24-year-old woman by US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).

It said on Wednesday that “an informed source close to her family told HRANA that she was arrested in recent days.”

Last month, the mother of Santiago Sánchez Cogedor said her son was being “held in Iran” after he dropped out of contact for several weeks.

Cogedor left his hometown near Madrid in January, hoping to make the epic journey on foot in time for the World Cup, which kicks off on November 20th.

Iran has been gripped by weeks of protests and a deadly crackdown 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.

The Spanish national arrested in the last few days, who is called Ana Baneira, was detained after taking part in the demonstrations.

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

Rome announced that an Italian woman arrested at the end of September had been released on Thursday “after intense diplomatic work” and was preparing to return home.

The families of foreigners detained in Iran often choose to keep a low profile in the hope of securing their release.

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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.