Two more French citizens are being held in Iran, taking the total of its nationals detained there to seven, France's foreign minister said on Saturday, a further sign of deteriorating ties between the two countries.
Last month, France accused Iran of “dictatorial practices” and taking its citizens hostage after a video was aired in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying, after weeks of unrest that Iran has linked to foreign powers.
“We have concerns over two other citizens and from our latest checks the result is they are being detained,” Catherine Colonna told Le Parisien newspaper.
On Friday, Le Figaro newspaper reported that the two nationals had been arrested before the start of anti-government protests in September over the death of Mahsa Amini, 22.
A foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that two more French citizens were being held, but did not give further details.
Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive nuclear talks in which France is one of the parties have stalled.
Neither country had an ambassador in place until last week, when France sent a new envoy to Iran.
The protests over Amini's death while she was in police custody have pushed the EU to follow the US, Canada and Britain in imposing sanctions on Iran.
A new round of EU sanctions on human rights will be approved at a foreign ministers' meeting on Monday, two diplomats told Reuters.
The sanctions would include 31 designations for human rights breaches aimed at individuals and entities covering asset bans and travel freezes, they said.
France has also proposed new designations for those who sell drones to Iran and to sanction people involved in the export of electronic components for drones, one of the diplomats said.
“If its (Iran's) objective is to blackmail us, then this is the wrong way to go about dealing with France,” Colonna said.