Flying a drone lands French tourist 8 years in an Iranian prison

A 36-year-old Frenchman was sentenced last week by the Iranian court to 8 years in prison for allegedly committing espionage while flying a drone. Benjamin Brière (36) was arrested in 2020 after taking pictures with his hobby drone in the desert near the border between and Turkmenistan. Brière claims he meant no harm and will appeal the ruling.

8 year prison sentence issued to French man for flying a drone

Benjamin Brière was traveling around Iran with his camper. Despite a ban on taking pictures and flying drones at the border with Turkmenistan, he made some aerial shots of himself and his camper. This was to the dissatisfaction of the authorities, who arrested the Frenchman and threw him in jail. That was in May 2020. Since that time, the Frenchman has been detained and a trial has been conducted behind closed doors.

Despite the innocent nature of his holiday snaps, Brière is guilty of taking ‘photos of prohibited areas’, the court said in a ruling. In addition, he had made critical comments on social media about the obligation for Iranian women to wear a hijab. On that basis, the court finds ‘propaganda against the Iranian regime’ proven. All in all, he was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

A post shared by Call It Living Travel Vanlife (@call_it_living_vanlife)

‘Political process’

French lawyer Philippe Valent calls the ruling of the Iranian court “unacceptable”. According to Valent, Brière has not received a fair trial and the judges are biased. He also did not get a chance to defend himself. Brière’s sister Blandine suspects Iran of a political process aimed at influencing the complex negotiations over a nuclear deal.

Benjamin Brière went on a hunger strike against his admission around Christmas. According to his lawyer, his health is rapidly deteriorating and he is “in shock” as a result of the conviction. He will appeal the charges in two weeks.

It seems outrageous to be issued an 8-year prison sentence for flying a drone. Let us know what you think about this situation in the comments below.

Flying A Drone Lands French Tourist 8 Years In An Iranian Prison 1

This article first appeared on Dronewatch and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

Drone photo courtesy of Benjamin Brière.

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Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ or @hayekesteloo.

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