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HomeWorld NewsSpanish Man Trekking To World Cup Reported Missing In Iran

Spanish Man Trekking To World Cup Reported Missing In Iran

MADRID (AP) — A Spanish man who was documenting his bold journey by foot from Madrid to Doha for the 2022 FIFA World Cup has not been heard from since crossing into Iran three weeks in the past, his household mentioned Monday, stirring fears about his destiny in a rustic convulsed by mass unrest.

The skilled trekker, former paratrooper and fervent soccer fan, 41-year-old Santiago Sánchez, was final seen in Iraq after mountain climbing by means of 15 nations and extensively sharing his journey on a preferred Instagram account over the past 9 months. But his exuberant posts stopped immediately on Oct. 1, the day he entered Iran from the nation’s unstable northwestern border.

Sánchez’s household says his every day WhatsApp updates stopped that day as effectively. Weeks later, they worry the worst.

“​​We are deeply worried, we can’t stop crying, my husband and I,” his mom, Celia Cogedor, instructed The Associated Press.

Sánchez’s mother and father have reported him as lacking to Spain’s nationwide police and the Foreign Ministry.

But Spanish authorities say they haven’t any details about his whereabouts, including that the Spanish ambassador to Tehran was dealing with the matter.

Calls to the Iranian Foreign Ministry searching for remark weren’t instantly returned on Monday.

Sánchez’s reported disappearance in Iran — his final cease earlier than reaching Qatar for the World Cup — comes as protesters stand up throughout the Islamic Republic within the largest antigovernment motion in over a decade. The demonstrations erupted on Sept. 16 over the loss of life of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old lady taken into custody by Iran’s morality police for allegedly not adhering to the nation’s strict Islamic gown code.

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Sánchez has not been heard from since crossing into Iran three weeks in the past, stirring fears about his destiny in a rustic convulsed by mass unrest. That’s based on his household, who spoke to the Associated Press on Oct. 24.

Tehran has violently cracked down and blamed international enemies and Kurdish teams in Iraq for fomenting the unrest, with out providing proof. The Iranian Intelligence Ministry mentioned authorities had arrested 9 foreigners, largely Europeans, over their alleged hyperlinks to the protests final month.

Westerners and twin nationals have more and more turn into pawns in Iran’s inside political struggles and in tensions between Tehran and Western capitals, analysts say, with a minimum of a dozen twin nationals arrested in recent times on disputed spying costs.

Sánchez arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan in late September, after trekking hundreds of kilometers (miles) carrying a small suitcase in a wheeled cart, full of little greater than a tent, water purification tablets and a fuel range for his 11 months on the street. He mentioned he needed to learn the way others lived by residing amongst them earlier than reaching Qatar, the primary World Cup host nation within the Arab world, in time for Spain’s first match on Nov. 23.

“The idea of the journey is to motivate and inspire other people to show that they can go very far with very little,” he instructed the AP from Sulaymaniyah, a Kurdish metropolis in northeastern Iraq. “You can go a long way walking.”

Protests in Iran’s Kurdish area after Amini’s loss of life kindled the nationwide unrest nonetheless roiling Iran. In response, Iranian forces have unleashed drone and artillery assaults focusing on Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.

But Sánchez was undeterred and assured, the information mentioned.

“He didn’t look nervous at all. He told me, ‘I sorted out everything, don’t worry,’” he mentioned. They communicated by means of Google Translate, as Sánchez solely speaks Spanish.

Sánchez, the information added, deliberate to fulfill an Iranian household within the Kurdish city of Marivan — a scene of current antigovernment protests. The household, delighted by Sánchez’s Instagram posts, had reached out and provided to host him.

After Sánchez crossed the border on Oct. 1, his messages turned sparse and cryptic, the information mentioned. Sánchez instructed him that issues have been “very different” in Iran from Sulaymaniyah, the Iraqi metropolis stuffed with parks and cafes.

“It’s been a long story,” his final message learn.

Sánchez’s mother and father mentioned he had warned them he’d quickly lose web entry after reaching Iran.

“The country is ‘hot,’ and there are no communications,” Sánchez instructed his father in his final message on Oct. 1, probably a reference to the turmoil in Iran’s Kurdish area and the federal government’s disruption of web and fashionable communications functions utilized by protesters.

His mother and father tried to not fret when their messages didn’t ship. But their worries grew because the weeks handed.

In his final Instagram replace, the night time earlier than he crossed the Iranian border, he posted photos of his emotional farewell to Iraq and instructed of a Kurdish household’s generosity. He had deliberate to camp on a mountain, however the proprietor of a close-by farm took him in, giving him a mattress, bathe and a hearty dinner.

Pictures on Instagram present him consuming bread and hen soup, smiling and posing with younger boys from the village and consuming tea over an open fireplace.

“Conclusion:” he wrote, “Lose yourself to find yourself.”

DeBre reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press author Salar Salim contributed from Irbil, Iraq.

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