Italian woman among foreigners held in Iran, say family

Almost 100 people are believed to have died in crackdowns after three weeks of women-led protests

Demonstrators gathering around a burning barricade during a protest in Tehran. Nationwide unrest was sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody last month. AFP
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A young Italian woman travelling in Iran has been arrested and jailed, her family said on Monday. Her detention took place days after the Iranian authorities said nine foreigners had been held over nationwide protests.

The parents of Alessia Piperno, 30, from Rome, said they lost contact after speaking to her on Wednesday — her birthday — but then received a phone call on Sunday morning to say she was in jail.

"They arrested me. I am in a prison in Tehran. Please help me," she told them, according to Il Messaggero, an Italian newspaper.

"I'm fine but there are people here who say they have been inside for months and for no reason," she added. "I fear I won't be let out again. Help me."

At least 92 people have been killed in crackdowns on women-led protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the notorious morality police, Iran Human Rights said on Sunday.

Iran has accused outside forces of stoking the nationwide protests, especially the US and Washington's allies. On Friday Iran's Ministry of Intelligence said nine foreigners ― including citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland ― had been arrested.

Italy's Foreign Ministry has so far made no comment about the identity of the Italian woman being held and did not respond to further requests on Monday about Ms Piperno's status.

Amnesty Italy tweeted that it hoped the ministry would do everything it can to secure her release.

Her father, Alberto, said that when he spoke to Ms Piperno on Wednesday, she had been planning a birthday picnic with friends from France, Poland and Iran.

Ms Piperno has been travelling the world for the past six years, according to her Instagram account, and had been in Iran for two months, according to Il Messaggero.

Updated: October 03, 2022, 10:36 AM