French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah has spent one year imprisoned in Iran, in a case that has intensified tensions between Paris and Tehran and angered supporters who fear she is the victim of a political battle.
The anniversary of her arrest is to be marked on Friday by a series of events around the world, many held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, with her portrait displayed by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on the facade of the French capital’s city hall.
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“Fariba Adelkhah is a hostage of the Iranian government,” Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate and rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who now lives in exile, said in a video message to mark the anniversary.
“The Tehran government uses dual nationals by taking them hostage and using them to achieve its own political agenda,” she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called Adelkhah’s continued imprisonment “unacceptable”.
“My message to the Iranian authorities: justice demands that our compatriot be released immediately,” he posted on Twitter.
Adelkhah, a prominent anthropologist specialising in Shia Islam, was arrested on June 5, 2019, with her partner Roland Marchal, a fellow academic at the Sciences Po university in Paris specialising in Africa.
Marchal was freed and returned to France in March after France released Iranian engineer Jalal Rohollahnejad, who risked extradition to the United States on accusations of violating sanctions.
Last month, she was ordered to serve six years in prison after being convicted on national security and propaganda charges, in a verdict criticised by Paris as “political”.
Born in Iran in 1959 but living in France since 1977, Adelkhah has maintained her innocence, and colleagues and other supporters have rubbished the charges against her.
She went on a 49-day hunger strike to protest against her conditions.