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French researchers in Iranian jail petition to get married

Fariba Adelkhah (L) and Roland Marchal (R) have reportedly been partners for 38 years [Twitter]

Date of publication: 7 February, 2020

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Two prominent French academics being held in Iran's Evin prison have requested to marry. If permitted, they will be able to see each other for the first time in months.
Two French-Iranian researchers held for months in a Tehran prison on charges of violating Iran's state security laws have petitioned prison authorities to allow them to get married, their lawyer said on Friday.

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, both in their sixties, filed separate requests to Evin prison authorities, according to their lawyer, Saeid Dehghan. He also expressed concerns for Adelkhah's deteriorating health amid a hunger strike that she has waged since December.

Iranian officials disclosed last July that Adelkhah, a prominent anthropologist who often traveled to Iran for research on post-revolutionary Iranian society, had been arrested on espionage charges. Those charges were later dropped but security-related charges remain against her.

Adelkhah's friend and fellow researcher Marchal was arrested as he tried to visit her, France revealed in October. He is being held in a men's ward in Evin on charges of spreading propaganda.

Read more: 'Caught in a political game': British journalist reveals 7-week Iran detention

In December, France summoned the Iranian envoy to Paris, saying it considered the months-long detention of Adelkhah and Marchal “unacceptable” and sought permission for consular officials to visit them. It wasn’t made public whether that permission was granted. Iran does not recognise dual nationality for its citizens.

Dehghan said a decision on whether his clients will be allowed to get married is expected next week, according to AP.

They have been partners for 38 years in France, he added.

“If permitted to marry, they will be able to meet and see each other inside the prison," he said, explaining that Iranian laws prohibit extra-marital relations.

In December, Adelkhah went on hunger strike to protest her and Marchal's detention.

“She remains on hunger strike, her legs are weak and she walks with difficulties," the lawyer said and added, without elaborating, that “her kidneys have faced some problems.”

Iran is holding several foreign and dual nationals, including five US-Iranian nationals. A prisoner exchange in December saw Tehran Iran free a Chinese-American scholar from Princeton who had been held for three years on widely criticised espionage charges.

It was seen as a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the US. However, it came prior to the US assassination of Iran's top general in Iraq in January, which has dramatically escalated tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Earlier, two Australians were freed in October while Australia freed an Iranian in what appeared to be a prisoner swap.

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