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Source: AP News

Oct 18, 2023

French-Iranian academic imprisoned for years in Iran returns to France

The Paris political sciences institute Sciences Po says French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was detained for years in Iran, has returned to France

PARIS (AP) — French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was detained for years in Iran, has returned to France, the political sciences institute Sciences Po announced Wednesday.

Adelkhah, an anthropologist who was arrested in 2019 on security charges, arrived in France on Tuesday, Science Po said.

She was freed from prison in February but had not been allowed to leave Iran. She had earlier been released from prison in October 2020 to serve part of her five-year sentence under house arrest but was re-imprisoned in January 2022, the institute said.

She was accused of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s political system” and “collusion to undermine national security.”

“After she has been deprived of her freedom for so long, what a thrill it is to welcome back our colleague Fariba, a symbol of our battle for academic freedom,” Sciences Po director Mathias Vicherat said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing Fariba back at Sciences Po, her home, soon.”

French President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Sunday during which he called for the release of Adelkhah and three other French nationals who are still being detained in the country, according to the French presidency.

Adelkhah and French academic Roland Marchal, both researchers at Sciences Po, were arrested in Iran on June 5, 2019. Marchal was freed in 2020 in an apparent prisoner swap. His release came hours after French authorities freed Jalal Ruhollahnejad, an Iranian engineer who faced U.S. charges of attempting to illegally export U.S. technology to Iran.

Earlier this year, Benjamin Briere, a French citizen, and Bernard Phelan, who has dual French-Irish nationality, were freed from an Iranian prison. They had been held in Mashhad in northeast Iran.

Occasional releases of Europeans from Iranian prisons are widely viewed as part of a delicate bid for favors.

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