The Islamic Republic announced this Sunday its release, after more than a harrowing year in one of the worst prisons in the world.
- Captivity The martyrdom of Santiago in the wildest prison in Iran after being accused of espionage: “I lose hope and faith”
- Audios “I’m going to stop eating”: The desperate situation of Santiago, the man from Madrid imprisoned in Iran for a year
The Islamic Republic of Iran announced this Sunday the release of the Spaniard Santiago Sánchez Cogedor, imprisoned in this country in October 2022 when he was arrested after visiting the grave of the activist Masha Amini, during a solidarity trip on foot between Madrid and Qatar, where he intended arrive to cheer on the Spanish team. Since his arrest, accused of espionage, Santiago Sánchez has lived an absolute ordeal in one of the toughest prisons in the country, Evin 209, where the Spanish ambassador in Tehran went to free him.
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is pleased to report the release of Santiago Sánchez Cogedor, the only Spanish citizen imprisoned in Iran. His release is carried out within the framework of friendly and historical relations between the two countries and in compliance with laws, the Iranian embassy in Spain wrote at around five in the afternoon on its official account on the X network – formerly called Twitter-.
However, between the announcement of the Iranians and the final liberation, time passed in which fear and nervousness spread among friends and family. As EL MUNDO learned, the Spanish ambassador in Iran himself, Ángel Losada, traveled by car to the prison to assist in the process.
Santiago had been documenting his entire trip on social media, often dressed in a purple Real Madrid kit. He left San Sebastin de los Reyes months before his arrest and entered Iran in the midst of unrest over the death of Masha Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested for wearing her veil incorrectly. Along the way he had the goal of planting 2,000 trees and helping the local communities with which he shared nights along the way. Traces of him were lost on October 2, 2022, when he published a smiling photograph on the border of the Islamic country next to the entrance sign to Iran. He meets some Iranians on the border. They tell him ‘Welcome to Iran’ and take him to the grave of the murdered girl, a friend from Santiago told THE WORLD last February. There, Santiago took photos, oblivious to current events in the country, and some non-uniformed police detained him while the Iranians he had just met ran away. Then three uncles covered his eyes, put him in a car and took him to prison, he said.
His destination was the Tabriz prison, in the province of East Azerbaijan, where he spent more than two months until he was located and the Spanish ambassador traveled with a group of GEOs the road between Tehran and Tabriz to meet Santiago for the first time. . After these first steps, he was transferred to Tehern. That transfer ends with Sánchez Cogedor in the fearsome Evin 209 prison, considered the harshest and savage prison in Iran. Amnesty International reports describe a terrible level of brutality in a prison where former detainees describe harrowing, windowless cells, screams of pain and the stench of sweat and vomit.
In audios to which EL MUNDO had access, Santiago himself, with a broken voice, described his situation months after entering Evin: I was in a small room of one square meter. There was no bathroom and there was an LED light on the ceiling 24 hours a day. If I wanted to go to the bathroom I had to call the intercom: ‘please toilet’. The guards laughed. There was a day when I literally shit myself.
His situation did not improve during the following months, in which he even considered stopping eating, as was heard in some audios that showed a terribly dejected Santiago Sánchez: I’m sad, I’m sad.
His discretion in prison, however, led him to obtain some prison benefits and, when he had been in prison for a year, he had already obtained a transfer to a relatively good module with peaceful prisoners who spoke English and from which he was allowed to make calls to Spain. . Several times during the process the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, referred to the negotiations to achieve the release of the Spaniard. The minister also asked for maximum discretion to achieve this after the Spanish Ana Baneira, also arrested during the protests that had spread throughout the country, was released in February.
There is an innocent Spaniard in a prison. What do they want from me? What do they want from us? he asked himself lamentingly last September, three months before his release, while he complained that the promises to put an end to his situation were being delayed from month to month, causing him to lose a hope that would finally end. It took place this Sunday, on the verge of the turn of the year and after almost 15 months behind bars in one of the harshest prison systems in the world.