French police detain intruder at Iranian consulate in Paris

Paris, France — French authorities Friday detained a man suspected of entering the Iranian consulate in Paris and falsely claiming to be armed with an explosive vest, police and prosecutors said. 

No explosives or arms were found on the man or the premises after he surrendered to police following the incident. 

The man, born in 1963 in Iran, had been convicted for setting fire to tires in front of the entrance of the Iranian embassy in Paris in 2023, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. 

Police arrested the suspect, who has not been named, when he left the consulate of his own accord after appearing to have “threatened violent action” inside, it said. 

According to a police source, who asked not to be named, he was wearing a vest with large pockets containing three fake grenades. 

Police earlier told AFP that the consulate called in law enforcement after a witness saw “a man enter carrying a grenade or an explosive belt.” 

The neighborhood around the consulate in the capital’s 16th district was closed off and a heavy police presence was in place, an AFP journalist reported. 

Traffic was temporarily suspended on two metro lines that pass through stops close to the consulate, Paris transport company RATP said. 

Iran’s embassy and consulate share the same building but have different entrances on separate streets. 

The incident came with tensions running high in the Middle East and Israel launching an apparent strike on central Iran overnight. 

However, there was no suggestion of any link. 

The office of the Paris prosecutor confirmed that the same man was to appear in court on Monday over a fire at the diplomatic mission in September 2023. 

A lower court had handed him an eight-month suspended sentence and prohibited him from entering the area around the consulate for two years and carrying weapons.  

But he is appealing the verdict. 

At the time, the man had claimed the action as an act of opposition to Iran’s clerical authorities as they faced the “Woman. Life. Freedom.” nationwide protests. 

Reports said that the man left Iran in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution and has expressed sympathy toward the former imperial regime. 

France raised its national security alert to its maximum level following an attack on a concert venue in Moscow on March 22, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility. 

The incident at the Iranian consulate prompted the Paris embassy of the United States to issue a security alert for its citizens. 

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