Iran has sent Franco-Iranian scholar Fariba Adelkhah back to prison from house arrest, a shocking development amid sensitive talks about the Iranian nuclear campaign.
Adelkhah was sentenced in May 2020 to five years in prison for conspiring against national security, charges that her supporters have always denounced as absurd. He was allowed to return home to Tehran in October 2020 with an electronic bracelet.
The French Foreign Ministry expressed “astonishment” at Adelkah’s re-imprisonment on Wednesday, calling for his immediate release, adding that the move came “without explanation or preliminary warning.”
“The decision can only have negative consequences on the relationship between France and Iran and reduce trust between our two countries,” the Foreign Ministry said.
She is one of at least a dozen Western citizens believed to be detained in Iran who, according to activists, are being held hostage at the behest of the elite Revolutionary Guard to obtain concessions from the West.
With talks underway in Vienna aimed at saving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, the French Foreign Ministry has warned that the move would damage bilateral relations and trust.
“With great shock and outrage we have been informed that Fariba Adelkhah … has been re-imprisoned in Evin prison” in Tehran, the committee created to support her said in a statement.
“The Iranian government is cynically using our colleague for external or internal purposes that remain opaque and have nothing to do with his activities,” he added.
The committee accused authorities of “deliberately endangering the health and even life of Fariba Adelkhah,” pointing to the death this month in Iranian custody of poet Baktash Abtin after he contracted Covid.
The surprise decision of the Iranian authorities to return Adelkhah to prison comes at a very delicate moment in the talks between France and other world powers aimed at reviving the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian complained on Tuesday that the pace of the talks in Vienna is “too slow,” in stark contrast to the more optimistic tone of officials in Tehran.
Also detained in Iran is Frenchman Benjamin Briere, whom his family describes as an innocent tourist, but was detained while traveling in May.
Briere’s family announced last month that they had started a hunger strike to protest their detention conditions and the lack of progress in their case.
A Shiite Islam specialist and research director at Sciences Po University in Paris, Adelkhah was arrested in June 2019 along with her French colleague and partner Roland Marchal.
Marchal was released in March 2020 in an apparent prisoner swap after France released Iranian engineer Jallal Rohollahnejad, who was facing extradition to the United States on allegations that he violated US sanctions against Iran.
Adelkah’s support group said she had been jailed “on trumped-up charges and without a proper trial.”
Citizens of the three European powers involved in talks about the Iranian nuclear program – Britain, France and Germany – are among the foreigners detained.
In a separate event on Wednesday, the British Council said its staff member, Iranian national Aras Amiri, had returned to the UK after being acquitted on appeal of a 10-year prison sentence for “cultural infiltration” in Iran. .
The 2015 deal, agreed to by Iran, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany, offered sanctions relief on Tehran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.
But then US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States in 2018 and reimposed scathing sanctions, prompting Tehran to begin to backtrack on its commitments.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism