RFL/RE – Iran has re-incarcerated French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah after she had spent more than a year under house arrest, the French Foreign Ministry said on January 12.
Adelkhah, a researcher at the elite Paris Institute of Political Studies, was arrested in 2019 at Tehran airport and handed a five-year prison sentence in 2020 for conspiring against national security.
It was unclear why Iranian authorities decided to place the anthropologist and specialist in Shi’a Islam back in prison, after allowing her to live under house arrest since October 2020.
The French Foreign Ministry voiced “astonishment” at the decision to re-incarcerate the academic with “no explanation or preliminary warning.”
“The decision to re-incarcerate her, which we condemn, can only have negative consequences on the relationship between France and Iran and reduce the trust between our two countries,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“France demands the immediate release of Ms. Adelkhah,” it added.
A group of her supporters said Adelkhah had been placed in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, where her health and life could be under threat.
“The Iranian government is cynically using our colleague for external or internal purposes that remain opaque, and that have nothing to do with her activities,” it added.
The surprise move by Iranian authorities comes as France and other world powers are in drawn-out talks aimed at reviving the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.
Adelkhah’s French colleague and partner, Roland Marchal, who was detained with her, was released in March 2020 in a prisoner exchange between Iran and France.
Marchal was swapped for engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, who faced extradition to the United States over accusations he violated U.S. sanctions against Iran.
At least a dozen Western nationals or dual nationals are believed to be held in Iran.
Western governments and activists accuse Iran of using such prisoners as hostages to extract concessions from the West.