Academic Fariba Adelkhah sentenced to six years in prison by Iranian court


Fariba Adelkhah, the French-Iranian academic imprisoned in Iran for almost a year, has been sentenced by an Iranian court to six years in prison on charges of breaching national security and spreading propaganda against the country.

Adelkhah, 61, was sentenced on Saturday, to five years for “gathering and collusion” against the country’s security and one year for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic system, but was told she would only serve the longer sentence, her lawyer said.

Adelkhah, an anthropologist and researcher at the Centre for International Research (CERI) at the Paris political institute Sciences Po, has been held at Evin jail, north of Tehran, since last June.

She was initially charged with spying but this was dropped in January. The Iranian authorities continued to hold her on other charges.

Adelkhah, weakened by a 49-day hunger strike at the beginning of the year, is a specialist in Shia Islam.

Her lawyer, Saeid Dehghan, had hoped she would be released after her appearance in court in Tehran on 19 April.

Her colleague and partner Roland Marchal, who had flown to the Iranian capital in June 2019 to visit her and was arrested at Tehran airport, was released at the end of March.

Marchal was freed 48 hours after France reportedly released an Iranian engineer, Jalal Rohollahnejad, threatened with extradition to the US over allegations he broke sanctions against Iran.

The French foreign ministry has previously said her detention is unacceptable and called on Iran to release her but Iran has repeatedly rejected France’s demands and accused it of interfering in its internal affairs.

The country has arrested dozens of foreign nationals and those holding dual nationality in recent years on “national security” charges, including the British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Tehran does not recognise the dual nationality of its citizens and has not granted French diplomats in Iran the usual consular visiting rights.

The French news website Mediapart, writing about Adelkhah and Marchal’s detentions in December, described the accusations against them as “absurd and cynical”.

“Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal have never had any other activity except those at university, those of their vocation which they carry out in complete independence from all forms of power or economic interest … but in Iran, all researchers are spies,” it said.

Adelkhah‘s lawyer Dehghan told Reuters he had appealed against the sentence. (Source: The Guardian)