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Iran jails French academic Fariba Adelkhah for 6 years

Fariba Adelkhah is an expert on Shia Islam [YouTube]

Date of publication: 16 May, 2020

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Iran authorities have arrested a French-Iranian academic, who faces six years in prison.
Iran sentenced a French-Iranian academic to five years in prison on national security charges, as the country continues its clamp down on free speech.

Fariba Adelkhah was “sentenced to five years for gathering and conspiring against national security, and one year for propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” according to her lawyer Said Dahghan.

Dahghan said Adelkhah is expected to serve the full five-year sentence, and she intends to appeal, according to France24.

The 61-year-old academic is a specialist in Shia Islam and a research director at Sciences Po University Paris. She had been in prison in Tehran while awaiting her trial.

A French colleague, Roland Marchal, had also been arrested while visiting her, Dehghan said, who also represents Marchal, and he was released in March as part of a prison swap.

The French authorities had freed Jalal Rohollahnejad, an Iranian engineer who had been held over accusations that he violated US sanctions against Iran.

France has called for their release as a “gesture” of goodwill, whilst Iran has called on France to stop “interfering”.

At the time of her arrest, she was looking at the movement of Shia clerics between Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, and she had spent time in Qom, a holy city.


Adelkhah had been on a hunger strike for six weeks to protest her arrest, which ended on 12 February and fears were expressed about her health.

Eleven days later she was sent to the prison’s hospital for treatment for severe kidney damage.

Detainees and releases

Last month Iran announced that 10,000 prisoners - among them an unknown number of inmates whose cases are political and related to activism or speech - would be granted amnesty on the Persian New Year, called Nowruz.

The country had already released 85,000 prisoners on temporary leave to curb the spread of the new coronavirus inside its prisons.

The temporary release of British-Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been extended for an extra month as part of this release, in an effort to stem the flow of Covid-19.

Aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 and serving a five-year jail term for sedition.

Her leave had been extended until May 20, her lawyer told state news agency IRNA on Tuesday.

Her UK MP Tulip Siddiq said she is “very happy” to hear about the extension and pressed on the government to ensure her release is permanent.

“Very happy to hear from Richard Ratcliffe that Nazanin’s furlough has been extended for a month - in line with other prisoners in Iran. Now is the time for our government to do all it can to make it permanent,” she tweeted.

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