France expels Iranian suspected of influence peddling for Tehran: lawyer


PARIS (AFP): France on Wednesday expelled an Iranian suspected of influence peddling on behalf of the Islamic republic and having links to the Revolutionary Guards ideological army, his lawyer and a source close to the issue told AFP.

Bashir Biazar had been held in administrative detention since the start of June and was subject to a deportation order from the French interior ministry.

His lawyer Rachid Lemoudaa said his client never posed a “threat to public order” in France.

Mohammad Mahdi Rahimi, the head of public relations for the office of the Iranian president, wrote on X: Biazar “has been released and is on his way back to his homeland”.

He said Biazar had been “illegally arrested and imprisoned in France a few weeks ago”.

But a representative of the French interior ministry, speaking at a hearing earlier Wednesday, said Biazar was an “agent of influence, an agitator who promotes the views of the Islamic Republic of Iran and, more worryingly, harasses opponents of the regime”.

The representative accused Biazar of filming journalists from Iranian opposition media in September in front of the Iranian consulate in Paris after an arson attack on the building.

The French authorities also accused him of posting messages on social networks in connection with the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza in which he denounced “Zionist dogs”.

During the hearing, Lemoudaa argued that the expulsion order was based on “assumptions” and that his client’s comments fell within the scope of “freedom of expression”.

“I have never been made aware of any threat whatsoever” posed by Biazar, he added.

He also expressed surprise that the ministry had waited nearly a month to implement its expulsion order when Biazar, whose residence permit was valid until 2026, had made it known that he did not “want to remain on French territory”.

Biazar has been described by the London-based Iran International television channel as a former official for Iranian state broadcaster IRIB.

Iranian state media have described him as a “cultural figure”.

The case has emerged at a time of heightened tensions between Paris and Tehran, with three French citizens — described by France as “state hostages” — still imprisoned in Iran.

A fourth French detainee, Louis Arnaud, held in Iran since September 2022, was suddenly released last month.__The Frontier Post