“This conviction was not based on any serious element and was motivated by political reasons. We therefore urge the Iranian authorities to release Fariba Adelkhah without delay, ”said France Inter Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Foreign Affairs, on radio.
“This decision makes our relations with the Iranian authorities much more difficult,” he said.
Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah was sentenced to six years in prison on May 16.
Iran previously dismissed France’s call to release Adelkhah, a 60-year-old anthropologist detained since June 2019, saying the request is “interference in Tehran’s internal affairs”. Tehran does not recognize dual nationality.
In March, Iran released Adelkhah’s partner, French academic Roland Marchal, who was detained with her. Marchal was released after France released Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, who had been arrested for allegedly violating US sanctions against Tehran and was facing extradition to the United States. Washington said it “deeply regrets” the French decision.
Adelkhah, 60, is director of research at the University of Sciences Po in Paris and a recognized specialist in Shiite Islam. She is best known for her book “Being Modern in Iran” and has done extensive research on women, youth and social change in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Experts point out that prisoner exchanges encourage Iran to continue its practice of kidnapping and detaining dual nationals to blackmail foreign nations into political concessions or the release of Iranian nationals suspected of spying and terrorist activities.
The IRGC has arrested dozens of dual citizens in recent years, mainly for “spying”.
Adelkhah’s lawyer Saeid Dehghan said that Marchal’s release was grounds for appeal against the charge of “assembly and conspiracy against national security”.
“At least two people must be involved for this charge to stand,” he said.
Adelkhah’s defense team also plans to argue that his personal academic opinion regarding the Islamic dress code applied in Iran cannot be equated with “propaganda against a political system”.
Visiting Western academics and journalists face constant harassment in Iran when they receive a visa to enter the country.