Tipperary man says he was told he would die in Iranian prison

Tipperary man says he was told he would die in Iranian prison
Bernard Phelan vigil in Dublin, © PA Wire/PA Images

An Irish national has said he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after being detained in Iran for seven months.

Bernard Phelan, a 64-year-old Irish-French national originally from Clonmel in Co Tipperary, was jailed in north-east Iran after being arrested in Mashhad in October 2022.

The Paris-based travel consultant was arrested for allegedly taking photos of police officers and a burned mosque following an anti-regime protest in Iran last autumn.

He was accused of providing information to an enemy country – charges he denied.




He experienced significant ill health while in custody.

Mr Phelan and another French national, Benjamin Briere, who was in custody for two years, were released on humanitarian grounds in May and flown to Paris.

In an interview with RTÉ News, Mr Phelan said he was told he would “die in prison”.

He said: “There are nightmares. I don’t sleep well, I’m on sleeping tablets – nightmares of being on the floor and being kicked by somebody.”


He recalled hearing beatings take place through the night and being asked “strange questions” during interrogation.

He said a judge told him through a translator that he would die in prison.

Mr Phelan told RTÉ that at one stage he spent three days handcuffed to a hospital bed.

He outlined a system of “white torture” which he described as the psychological impact of building up hopes and “crashing them”.

Mr Phelan said another prisoner once made a throat-slitting gesture towards him.

“I knew I’d get out eventually, but I didn’t know if I would get out in six months or six years. I’d no idea.”


Cillian Sherlock, PA

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