Spain The 15 months of ordeal between Tabriz and Evin of Santiago Sánchez, the Spaniard who was arrested in Amini's tomb in Iran

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

Spain The 15 months of ordeal between Tabriz and Evin of Santiago Sánchez, the Spaniard who was arrested in Amini's tomb in Iran

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 experienced an absolute ordeal in one of the toughest prisons in the country, Evin 209, where the Spanish ambassador in Tehran appeared 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 - before called Twitter.

However, time passed between the Iranians' announcement and the final liberation, during which fear and nervousness spread among friends and family. As EL MUNDO learned, the Spanish ambassador to 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 Sebastián 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 entry sign to Iran. «He meets some Iranians on the border. They tell him 'Welcome to Iran' and they take him to the grave of the murdered girl," a friend from Santiago told EL MUNDO 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 guys covered his eyes, put him in a car and took him to jail," 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 Tehran. 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 achieve some prison benefits and, when he had been in prison for a year, he had already managed to 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, made reference to the negotiations to achieve the release of the Spaniard. The minister also requested 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 you 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 hope. which finally 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.