Iran jails French academic again for ‘violation’ of house arrest

Fariba Adelkha

TEHRAN (Reuters) – French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah has been jailed again for violating house arrest restrictions, an Islamic Republic judicial official said on Sunday.

His Paris-based support group announced on Wednesday “with great shock and outrage” his reincarceration, which comes amid sensitive talks in Vienna aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear deal that offered sanctions relief to Tehran in return for restrictions on its nuclear program.

“Ms. Adelkhah (…) has unfortunately knowingly violated the limits of house arrest dozens of times,” said Kazem Gharibabadi, deputy head of the judiciary, quoted by Mizan online, the authority’s press agency.

“She insisted on doing so despite repeated warnings from the judicial authorities. So now, like any other prisoner who has broken the same rules… she has been sent back to prison,” he added.

Adelkhah, 62, a specialist in Iran and Shiite Islam at the prestigious French university Sciences Po, was arrested on June 5, 2019 at Tehran airport.

She was sentenced in May 2020 to five years in prison for conspiracy against national security, charges that her supporters have always denounced as absurd. In October of the same year, she was placed under house arrest with an electronic bracelet.

Adelkhah’s support group on Sunday dismissed the court’s charges and said she followed the rules.

His house arrest, conviction and first incarceration “never had the slightest basis”, said Béatrice Hibou, research director at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris, calling the measures “acts disloyal and illegitimate”.

The court’s assertions are “null and void and will not silence the outrage that has risen around the world at the news of his reincarceration”, she said, adding: “Fariba Adelkhah is innocent”.

Adelkhah is one of at least a dozen Western nationals believed to be detained in Iran who rights groups abroad say are being held for political reasons in order to extract concessions from the West .

The French Foreign Ministry said his reincarceration “can only have negative consequences on relations between France and Iran and reduce trust between our two countries”.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called the decision “totally arbitrary”. He added that “the whole of France” was “mobilized for his release”.

Gharibabadi insisted that Adelkhah is “a citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran”, which “strongly condemns the intervention of other countries in (his) judicial process”. Iran does not recognize dual nationality and therefore denies French consular staff access to Adelkhah.

“It is very regrettable that the French authorities (…) by issuing hasty statements, make baseless and groundless remarks which are definitely unacceptable,” Gharibabadi said.

Talks between Tehran and world powers on the 2015 nuclear deal entered the new year with positive signals emerging, including the European Union saying on Friday that a deal remained possible.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson last week cited “good progress”, but French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated on Friday that the talks were progressing “far too slowly to be able to achieve a result. “.

Then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed biting sanctions, prompting Tehran to start backtracking on its commitments.

Posted in Dawn, January 17, 2022