05/18/2020, 15.45
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Iran sentences French-Iranian scholar Fariba Adelkhah to five years

The Sciences Po researcher was convicted of “conspiracy against national security”. She also got a year for "propaganda” against the state. For Paris, her conviction is of a “political nature”. Human rights groups and her colleagues have called for her release. Kylie Moore-Gilbert's family members deny claims she tried to commit suicide.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An Iranian court sentenced French-Iranian anthropologist Fariba Adelkhah to five years in prison. For more than a year, she has been at the centre of a political and humanitarian controversy between France and Iran.

Fariba Adelkhah was convicted for “conspiracy against national security”. She also got “one year for propaganda [against the state],” her lawyer Saeid Dehghan said. French authorities reacted immediately, and "firmly condemned" the court ruling.

According to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, “This conviction is not based on any serious element or established fact and is therefore of a political nature”. He called on Iranian authorities to release her unconditionally.

Fariba Adelkhah, 61, was arrested in June 2019 and taken to Evin prison, on the outskirts of the capital Tehran. She is a researcher on Shia Islam at the Centre for International Studies (Centre de recherches internationals, CERI), a facility affiliated with the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po).

In an email sent to its students, the institute said “that this terrible news, as revolting as it is unacceptable, arouses in us anger, sadness and indignation; however, we shall not give up.”

Her lawyer has already announced plans to appeal the decision. In the months leading up to the trial, which began in March, the prosecutor dropped spying charges, which would have resulted in an even longer sentence.

Adelkhah was arrested by the Guardians of the Revolution, together with her companion, Africanist Roland Marchal (who came to visit her on a private visit), on 5 June 2019, at Tehran International Airport.

Adelkhah’s friends and colleagues are particularly worried because the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Iran hard, and Evin Prison is one of its hotspots. In addition, “She has kidney problems caused by her hunger strike,” her lawyer said.

In recent years, especially since the United States withdrew unilaterally from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ​​and imposed new sanctions, more and more Iranians with dual nationality have detained, usually on charges of espionage on behalf of foreign powers.

Iran does not recognise dual citizenship. Human rights groups activists complain that Iranian authorities use “psychological torture" and is responsible for "human rights violations" of people in jail.

Whilst in prison waiting for her trial, the scholar went on a hunger strike as did Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian lecturer in Islamic studies, who was sentenced to ten years in prison and is also held at Evin Prison.

According to some reports, Moore-Gilbert earlier this month tried to kill herself several times. She is said to be upset with the Australian government’s response to her detention

In a statement released by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, her family said that they had spoken “a number of times" with her in recent weeks.

“She has strongly denied reports that she has attempted suicide or that she is being tortured,” the family said. “She seems to be in good health considering her situation.”

Moore-Gilbert’s arrest was confirmed in September 2019 but her family at the time noted that she had been detained for months before that. Since her detention, she has spent ten months in solitary confinement.

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