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Monday Jul 15 2019

France says Franco-Iranian academic Adelkhah detained in Iran

Fariba Adelkhah

PARIS: A Franco-Iranian academic based at a prestigious Paris university has been arrested in Iran and denied contact with consular staff, the French foreign ministry said Monday.

The detention of Fariba Adelkhah, a prominent researcher in anthropology and social sciences based at Sciences Po, risks increasing tension between Paris and Tehran at a critical moment in the crisis over the Iranian nuclear programme.

"The French authorities were recently informed of the arrest of Fariba Adelkhah," said the foreign ministry statement, which confirmed she holds dual nationality.

"France calls on the Iranian authorities to shed full light on Mrs Adelkhah's situation and repeats its demands, particularly with regard to an immediate authorisation for consular access," it said.

"No satisfactory response has been received until now," it added.

Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said he could not confirm the charges.

Adelkhah is the latest Iranian national also holding a Western passport to be arrested in Iran.

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges she denies.

Dual Iranian-American nationals Siamak Namazi and his father, Baquer, are serving 10-year sentences for espionage in a case that has outraged Washington.

Meanwhile, Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University researcher, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage and US national Michael White, 46, was this year also sentenced to 10 years.

French academic Clotilde Reiss was detained in Iran for 10 months in 2009-10 before being released in a case that attracted widespread attention at the time.

At a similar time to her release, French judicial authorities set free Ali Vakili Rad who had been convicted of the 1991 murder outside Paris of the ousted shah's former prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar.

The timing led to speculation of a deal struck between the countries over the prisoners, though French authorities denied any exchange.

Adelkhah's arrest comes as France and its EU allies are seeking to keep alive the 2015 nuclear deal on Iran's nuclear programme after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord unilaterally. 

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