Relatives and friends of Spanish football fan Santiago Sanchez, arrested in Iran on his way to the World Cup, demanded his release during a rally outside Tehran’s embassy in Madrid Sunday.
“Your family calls for your immediate release,” read a large banner held by several of his relatives, who joined dozens of others for a protest outside the embassy in a residential area.
“My wish for Christmas, of course, is for my son to return. I don’t want (to win) lotteries or anything, I want my son,” Celia Cogedor, Sanchez’s mother, told reporters.
Sanchez left his hometown near Madrid in January, hoping to walk to Qatar in time for the World Cup, which kicked off on November 20.
He was arrested in early October in Iran after taking a photo of the grave of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd whose September 16 death sparked weeks of protests in the Islamic republic, his mother said.
“In no way was it intended to harm the Iran state’s security,” Cogedor said at the rally.
She also said she was able to speak briefly with her son in recent days and learned he was in “good health”.
“We are asking (the Iranian authorities) to realise that he is not a political activist,” said Jose Felix, a 53-year-old friend of Sanchez, holding a banner reading “Freedom for Santiago”.
Several European citizens, including another Spaniard, have been arrested in connection with the protests in Iran.
Amini had been arrested for allegedly violating the country’s strict dress code for women.
Hundreds of people have been killed while thousands of individuals have been detained during the protests in Iran.