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Iran Sentences French-Iranian Academic To Six Years

France has condemned the reported sentencing of a French-Iranian academic to six years in prison in Iran.

Fariba Adelkhah was handed a five-year term for conspiring against national security and one year for propaganda, her lawyer Saeid Dehghan said. But he added that he expected the sentences would be served concurrently.

The 61-year-old anthropologist and researcher at Sciences Po university in Paris was detained in June along with her French colleague Roland Marchal. Mr Marchal was released in March this year as part of a prisoner swap.

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

In recent years, Iran has arrested dozens of foreign and dual nationals on national security charges. Some, including British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, are on temporary release because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There was no immediate confirmation of Ms Adelkhah’s conviction or sentence from the Iranian judiciary on Saturday.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said: “This sentencing is not based on any serious element or established fact, and therefore has a political nature.” “We are urging Iranian authorities to immediately release Ms Adelkhah,” he added.

The Iranian authorities do not recognise dual nationality for Iranian citizens and they have not granted French diplomats consular access rights. Ms Adelkhah has protested her innocence and on 24 December she began a hunger strike at Tehran’s Evin prison along with the Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, according to Science Po. Ms Adelkhah ended the hunger strike on 12 February, after fears were expressed about her health. Eleven days later, she was admitted to the prison’s hospital for treatment for severe kidney damage.

The Sciences Po researcher is a specialist in social anthropology and the political anthropology of post-revolutionary Iran, and has written a number of books, including Revolution under the Veil: Islamic Women of Iran.

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