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Iranian authorities have arrested a left-wing activist suspected of meeting two French nationals detained since May on suspicion of fomenting labour unrest in the sanctions-hit country, state media reported Thursday.

The arrests have come as Iran battles a wave of labour unrest fuelled by the worsening economy and prospects for an easing of US sanctions have diminished.

“In a meeting ahead of International Labour Day (1 May), the detainee coordinated his activities with two French spies.”
The broadcaster did not identify the activist nor specify the date of his arrest

State television has aired footage of the couple from the moment they set foot in Iran on 28 April.

French trade union officials have said the couple were on holiday in Iran over the Easter school break.

The French government has condemned their arrest as “baseless” and demanded their immediate release.

Iran’s schools have been hit by months of industrial action by teachers, with regular protests outside education ministry offices across the country.

On Wednesday, a group of independent UN rights experts expressed alarm over what they called a “violent crackdown” on teachers and wider civil society in Iran.

Iran’s economy has been reeling under punishing US sanctions imposed since 2018, when then president Donald Trump abandoned a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

Talks on reviving the agreement with the United States again a party have stalled since March in a blow to hopes of a boost to the economy from an easing of US sanctions.

Iran announced a series of measures to tackle the worsening economy in May, including changes to a subsidy system and increases in the prices of staple goods.

Hundreds protested in Iranian cities, including in Tehran province, state news agency IRNA reported.

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