31st May 2023
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Family and friends call on Iran to release Spanish football fan

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

‘Your family calls for your quick 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 of the city.

‘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 20 November. 

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 16 September death sparked weeks of protests in the Islamic republic, his mother said. Amini had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women. ALSO READ: Spanish man trekking to World Cup in Doha, reportedly held in Iran prison.

‘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’.

Several European citizens, including another Spaniard, have been arrested in connection with the protests in Iran. Hundreds of people have been killed while thousands of individuals have been detained during the protests.

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