A SPANISH traveller who was trying to reach the 2022 Qatar World Cup on foot, but who was detained in Iran and kept behind bars for 15 months, has returned to Spain and has spoken about his ordeal.
“I can’t believe it, it has been very long, very tough, but I am here, I am in my country,” said Santiago Sanchez Cogedor on Thursday when he arrived in Madrid’s Barajas Airport.
Sanchez, 42, was arrested in early October 2022 in Iran after he visited the grave of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian who died in police custody after her arrest for incorrectly wearing her veil.
He was finally released on Sunday by the Iranian authorities, and has since explained that he was accused of spying and was threatened with the death penalty.
His stay in prison was ‘very tough’, he said, in comments reported by news agency Europa Press.
“We don’t know how lucky we are to have been born in this country,” he added.
Sanchez’s mother told reporters shortly before his arrival in Spain that he had been ‘tricked’ into visiting the grave of Amini at a time when there were violent protests taking place in Iran.
Both Sanchez and his mother expressed their gratitude to the Spanish ambassador in Iran, Angel Losada, who was, they said, ‘a genuine phenomenon’.
“It is very difficult to negotiate with these people,” Sanchez added, in reference to the Iranian authorities.