THE elderly father and sister of an Irishman who is being held captive in Iran will attend a vigil organised in his name today.
Vincent Phelan, 97, and his daughter Caroline Massé-Phelan will attend the event taking place outside the Iranian Embassy in Dublin today at 3pm.
Extended family members and friends will also be there, to show their support for the campaign to release Bernard Phelan, who is currently incarcerated in an Iranian prison.
The 64-year-old, who is of ill-health and is said to be going blind while in prison, was arrested on October 3, 2022, while travelling through the city of Mashhad, in the north-east of Iran.
Mr Phelan, who has dual Irish and French nationalities - having lived in France for the past 30 years, was accused by Iranian authorities of "providing information to an enemy country", a charge he denies.
Last month Mr Phelan, who was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary, but grew up in Blackrock, County Dublin, was brought before a judge in shackles and found guilty of the charge.
He was not permitted to have his lawyer with him and was appointed a court lawyer for the process, although a prison doctor and nurse accompanied him, his family confirm.
In an initial hearing on February 20, the judge sentenced him to three and a half years in prison, but said he would receive a pardon from the court on humanitarian grounds because of his age and his ill health.
However, on February 26, Mr Phelan was again brought to the court, with 20 minutes notice and without his own lawyer, where he was told he would not be pardoned and that his sentence had been increased to six and a half years.
Documentation from the legal proceedings has not been released.
Mr Phelan’s family are increasingly worried for his health, which they claim has “deteriorated significantly” since he was first imprisoned last October.
“He was briefly admitted to hospital and placed on an IV drip,” they state.
“He requires daily medication for a number of health conditions and fears his supplies will run out,” they add.
Mr Phelan’s doctor is also “concerned” about the decline in his health, confirming that he has “significant cardiovascular issues, cervical atherosclerosis, abnormal hypertension, high risk of stroke and kidney failure and a bone problem that generates significant chronic pain”.
His eyesight is also deteriorating, his family add, as he had an operation on both of his eyes prior to his trip to Iran for which he has not had the necessary postoperative follow-up.
Speaking in a video launched alongside an ongoing campaign to have Mr Phelan freed, his father said: “I’ve lost one son and I’ve only one left, Bernard.
“For the next few years, I have no idea how long I am going to live, no one does, but I am relying on Bernard to help me.”
He added: “I miss him a lot and I miss him more every day.”
More than 6,000 people have already signed a petition to have him released. For further information click here.