Spanish man imprisoned in Iran arrives home after release

  • Santiago Sánchez Cogedor, a Spaniard, has returned home to Madrid on Tuesday after spending 15 months in an Iranian prison.
  • He was arrested in Oct. 2022 during his solo walking trek to the men’s soccer World Cup in Qatar.
  • His arrest followed a visit to the tomb of Mahsa Amini, a woman whose death while in the custody of Iran’s morality police had triggered protests in the country.

A Spaniard who spent 15 months in an Iranian prison after visiting the tomb of Mahsa Amini returned home to Madrid on Tuesday after being released.

“I can’t believe it. This has been very hard, but I am here. We have no idea how fortunate we are to have been born in his country,” Santiago Sánchez Cogedor told a group of reporters at the airport after he was embraced by family and friends upon arrival.

Sánchez Cogedor was on a solo walking trek to the men’s soccer World Cup in Qatar when he was arrested in Iran in October 2022. His arrest followed his visit to the tomb of Amini, a woman whose death while being held by Iran’s morality police for violating Iran’s Islamic dress code sparked protests in the country.

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He remained behind bars until Iran’s embassy to Spain announced his release on Sunday.

Spanish Santiago Sanchez Cogedor welcomed

Spanish Santiago Sanchez Cogedor is welcomed by friends and family members at the Barajas airport, outskirts of Madrid, on Jan. 2, 2024. Sanchez Cogedor, who spent 15 months in an Iranian prison after visiting the tomb of Masha Amini, returned home on Tuesday after being released. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The 41-year-old was walking all the way from Spain with the goal of reaching Qatar to support Spain’s national team at soccer’s biggest global event.

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Sánchez Cogedor said that he would not comment on politics, but he read to reporters what he called a diploma given to him by his fellow prisoners in Iran that indicated he had “passed the test of life.”

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