A Spanish man on his way to the World Cup in Iran has been reported missing

A Spanish man on his way to the World Cup in Iran has been reported missing

By Raquel Redondo and Isabel Debre

Madrid (AFP) – A Spanish man who was documenting his bold journey on foot from Madrid to Doha for the 2022 soccer World Cup has not been heard from since crossing into Iran three weeks in the past, his household stated on Monday, elevating considerations about his destiny in . A rustic shaken by mass unrest.

The skilled late, former paratrooper and avid soccer fan, 41-year-old Santiago Sanchez, was final seen in Iraq after touring 15 nations and broadly sharing his journey on the favored Instagram account for the previous 9 months. However his prolific positions got here to a sudden halt on October 1, the day he entered Iran from the nation’s restive northwest frontier.

Sanchez’s household says his day by day WhatsApp updates stopped on that day as properly. Weeks later, they worry the worst.

“We’re so nervous, we will not cease crying, my husband and I,” his mom, Celia Cogedor, advised The Related Press.

Sanchez’s mother and father reported him lacking to the Spanish Nationwide Police and the Ministry of Overseas Affairs.

However the Spanish authorities say they haven’t any info on his whereabouts, including that the Spanish ambassador in Tehran is in command of the matter.

On Monday, calls to Iran’s Overseas Ministry looking for remark weren’t instantly answered.

Sanchez’s disappearance in Iran – his final cease earlier than arriving in Qatar for the World Cup – comes as protesters rose up throughout the Islamic Republic within the largest anti-government motion in additional than a decade. The demonstrations have been triggered on September 16 by the demise of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old lady who was detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not adhering to the nation’s strict Islamic gown code.

Tehran launched a violent crackdown, blaming international enemies and Kurdish teams in Iraq for fomenting unrest with out offering proof. Iran’s Intelligence Ministry stated authorities had arrested 9 foreigners, largely Europeans, over their alleged hyperlinks to protests final month. Analysts say Westerners and twin nationals are more and more turning into pawns in Iran’s inside political struggles and in tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, with a minimum of a dozen twin nationals arrested lately on disputed espionage expenses.

Sanchez arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan in late September, having traveled hundreds of kilometers carrying a small suitcase in a wheeled cart, full of a tent, water purification tablets and a fuel range for 11 months on the highway. He stated he desires to find out how others dwell by dwelling amongst them earlier than arriving in Qatar, the Arab World’s first World Cup host, in time for Spain’s first match on November 23.

“The concept of ​​the journey is to encourage and encourage others to indicate that they will go very far with little or no,” he advised The Related Press of Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish metropolis in northeastern Iraq. “You may go a good distance in strolling.”

The day earlier than his disappearance, Sanchez had breakfast with a tour information in Sulaymaniyah. The information, who spoke on situation of anonymity for worry of reprisals, stated he tried to warn Sanchez of the damaging political scenario in Iran once they parted methods.

Protests in Iran’s Kurdish area after Amini’s demise sparked unrest throughout the nation that continues to roil Iran. In response, Iranian forces did Unleash drone and artillery attacks Focusing on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

However the information stated Sanchez had not faltered in his confidence.

“He did not appear nervous in any respect. I’ve sorted all the pieces out, don’t be concerned,” he advised me. They communicated by means of Google Translate, as Sanchez solely speaks Spanish.

The information added that Sanchez had deliberate to fulfill an Iranian household within the Kurdish city of Marivan, which not too long ago witnessed anti-government protests. The household, delighted with Cogedor’s Instagram posts, reached out and provided to host him.

The information stated that after Sanchez crossed the border on October 1, his messages grew to become few and obscure. Sanchez advised him that issues are “very completely different” in Iran than in Sulaymaniyah, the Iraqi capital full of parks and cafes.

I learn his final message: “It was a protracted story.”

Sanchez’s mother and father stated he warned them he would briefly lose web connection after he arrived in Iran.

“The nation is ‘sizzling’ and there are not any communications,” Sanchez advised his father in his final October 1 letter, presumably referring to unrest in Iran’s Kurdish area and the federal government’s disruption of the web and fashionable communications apps he makes use of. protesters.

His mother and father tried to not fear when their letters did not get by means of. However their fears grew because the weeks glided by.

The Spanish Overseas Ministry stated it had registered the Sanchez border crossing into Iran and had not dominated out any prospects.

In his newest Instagram replace, the evening earlier than he crossed the Iranian border, he posted footage of his emotional farewell to Iraq and advised of the generosity of a Kurdish household. He was planning to camp on a mountain, however the proprietor of a close-by farm greeted him, giving him a mattress, a bathe, and a hearty dinner.

Photos on Instagram present him consuming bread and hen soup, smiling and posing with village boys and ingesting tea over an open hearth.

Conclusion: “Unfastened your self to seek out your self,” he wrote.


Debre reported from Jerusalem. Related Press author Salar Salem contributes from Erbil, Iraq.

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