Spanish man traveling to World Cup by foot detained in Iran

A Spanish man who went missing while traveling by foot to Qatar for the FIFA World Cup was arrested in Iran after visiting the grave of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian woman who died after she was arrested for violating hijab laws, human rights activists said.

Santiago Sánchez, a 41-year-old former paratrooper, has been missing since he walked over the northwestern border into Iran about three weeks ago, according to his family, who said they last heard from him Oct. 2.

He was detained by Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence in Saqqez while visiting Amini’s grave, according to the Hengaw Human Rights Organization.

The Spanish native was accompanied by his translator, an Iranian citizen. Both were arrested.

Sánchez had been documenting his journey from his hometown of Madrid to Oatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Instagram when his posts about his adventure suddenly stopped on Oct. 1 upon entering Iran.

Santiago Sánchez
Santiago Sánchez has been documenting his trek to the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Instagram.
Instagram / @santiago_sanchez_co

The daily WhatsApp updates Sánchez sent his family also stopped then, and after hearing nothing for weeks his family reported him missing to Spain’s national police and the Foreign Ministry.

“We are deeply worried, we can’t stop crying, my husband and I,” his mother, Celia Cogedor, said.

Iranian authorities have not confirmed Sánchez’s reported detention.

Santiago Sánchez
Santiago Sánchez’s family has not heard from him since earlier this month.
Instagram / @santiago_sanchez_co

The Ministry of Information of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced several weeks ago that it had arrested nine foreigners, mostly European citizens, on charges related to the protests that followed Amini’s suspicious death.

The 22-year-old Iranian woman died after she was arrested by the morality police in Tehran for breaking the law that requires women to cover their hair with a headscarf, and their arms and legs with loose clothing.

She was allegedly beaten inside a van while being brought to a detention center, and was in a coma for three days before she died.

Map from Madrid to Qatar
Santiago Sánchez was making his journey from Madrid to Qatar on foot.
Instagram / @santiago_sanchez_co

Amini’s death has sparked widespread protests against the Islamic Republic mortality’s police. As a result, at least 201 people including 23 children have been killed

Her death sparked widespread protests against the Islamic Republic mortality’s police, and as a result at least 201 people including 23 children have been killed, according to Iran Human Rights (IHR).

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