Find out the Spanish tourist who ended up in Iran’s most feared prison

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Spaniard Santiago Sánchez Cogedor says he has always liked adventures and that his “really adventurous” spirit was awakened in 2018 during a trip to Brazil.

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“I visited favelas and volunteered at an orphanage. I traveled through part of South America with a backpack on my back and often slept in the homes of local families,” he said in an interview to BBC News Mundo.

Where did this come from?

However, this 42-year-old Spaniard did not imagine that his latest adventure would become one of his worst nightmares. That’s because in January 2022, he decided to walk from Madrid to Qatar to watch the World Cup.

As a result, his plans were interrupted when he was detained in Iran, accused of espionage. With this, he spent 14 months in a feared maximum security prison known as Evin, which has been the target of multiple complaints of serious human rights violations.

“I’ve been through things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy,” he says. Sánchez had already visited Iran in 2020 and therefore had no fears about returning to the country.

“I cycled from Madrid to Saudi Arabia to see the Spanish Super Cup, which was held in that country, and to see my football team, Real Madrid”, he says.

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While passing through Iraq, he heard that the situation in Iran was tense, but “I had no idea there was violence.” Sánchez claims that, having already visited the country before, “not in my worst dreams did I imagine that what happened to me could happen to me.”

In mid-September 2022, the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, at the hands of Iran’s “morality police” shook the Islamic country. The police had allegedly arrested the young woman for not following strict rules on wearing a headscarf.

Witnesses claim that the young woman was beaten while inside a vehicle when she was detained in Tehran. Santiago says he didn’t know much about Mahsa Amini’s case. And he claims he was the victim of a frame-up in Iran.

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