Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropologist and researcher at the Centre for International Research (CERI) at the Paris political institute Sciences Po, has been held at Evin jail, north of Tehran, since last June.
She was initially charged with spying but this was dropped in January. The Iranian authorities continued to hold her on other charges.
On Saturday, it was announced she had been given a five-year jail sentence for “colluding with the aim of breaching national security” and a further one-year term for “propaganda against the system”, but was told she would only serve the longer sentence.
Adelkhah, 61, weakened by a 49-day hunger strike at the beginning of the year, is a specialist in Shia Islam. Her lawyer, Saeid Dehghan, had hoped she would be released after her appearance in court in Tehran on 19 April.
Her colleague and partner Roland Marchal, who had flown to the Iranian capital in June 2019 to visit her and was arrested at Tehran airport, was released at the end of March. Marchal was freed 48 hours after France reportedly released an Iranian engineer, Jalal Rohollahnejad, threatened with extradition to the US over allegations he broke sanctions against Iran.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is among a number of leading French figures, including the Europe and foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves le Drian, to call for Adelkhah’s release. The French foreign ministry has previously said her detention is unacceptable and called on Iran to release her.
Iran has repeatedly rejected France’s demands and accused it of interfering in its internal affairs.
The country has arrested dozens of foreign nationals and those holding dual nationality in recent years on “national security” charges, including the British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Tehran does not recognise the dual nationality of its citizens and has not granted French diplomats in Iran the usual consular visiting rights.
The French news website Mediapart, writing about Adelkhah and Marchal’s detentions in December, described the accusations against them as “absurd and cynical”.
“Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal have never had any other activity except those at university, those of their vocation which they carry out in complete independence from all forms of power or economic interest … but in Iran, all researchers are spies,” it said.
Adelkhah was born in Iran in 1959 and arrived in France aged 18 to study, first at Strasbourg University and then at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where she obtained her doctorate in anthropology. She is a specialist in the political anthropology of post-revolutionary Iran and has contributed to numerous scientific reviews, including Iranian Studies, and written a number of books, including Revolution under the Veil: Islamic Women of Iran.
At the time of her arrest last year, Jean-François Bayart, a former director at CERI, said all Adelkah’s family were in Iran.
“She has always refused to condemn the Islamic Republic regime, which has led to her being misunderstood by the [Iranian] diaspora and to be attacked from both sides,” Bayart told Le Figaro. “She is a free-thinking, independent, extremely talented and outspoken researcher.”
Dehghan told Reuters he had appealed against the sentence.
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