The sister of an Irish man being detained in a prison in Iran is urging the public to get behind a petition for his release and says he needs to be released on humanitarian grounds.
64-year-old Bernard Phelan was arrested last October while travelling in Iran and is being detained in Mashhad.
Bernard, who's originally from Clonmel in Co. Tipperary but has dual French and Irish nationality was jailed during the widespread protests against the Iranian Islamic regime.
The travel consultant was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison.
Bernard's family is worried he hasn't long to live, as his health is deteriorating. His sister Ciara says he has complex health issues:
"He has a significant cardiovascular illness and also has a risk of stroke and kidney failure." She continued: "[he also] has bone problems that generates significant chronic pain – he's been really largely untreated."
She says conditions in the prison are appalling and that he needs to be sent home as soon as possible:
"In his cell he has to sit on the floor, they only have bunkbeds, it's Ramadan at the moment; he doesn't have food during the day. Anybody being kept in those conditions is just appalling."
It's been reported that there's no glass in the windows, meaning the 64-year-old suffers temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius at night, with no appropriate clothing to stay warm.
Bernard's family will hold a vigil outside the Iranian embassy in Dublin this Thursday. His Sister explained: "We are holding this vigil for family and friends outside the Iranian Embassy"
She said they will also deliver their petition of signatures to the Embassy for Bernard's release which currently has a total of 5,725 signatures as of Monday morning.
The petition reads:
"The Government authorities in Dublin are working closely with the French Government to free Bernard Phelan (64), an Irish-French dual national, who was jailed in Iran in October.
"Bernard, a native of Tipperary, grew up in Dublin and is a Paris-based tourism consultant. He has been held captive since 3rd October 2022 in Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad city accused of disseminating anti-regime propaganda and taking pictures of security services.
"He has not been charged with any offense. Bernard was on an educational tour with an Iranian tourism company developing new opportunities to bring tourism to Iran when he was arrested."
The petition is available to sign here