The French government blasted Iran’s charges against Adelkhah, a social anthropologist with a particular expertise in Iranian culture, as groundless and politically motivated.
“This conviction is not based on any serious element or established fact and is therefore of a political nature,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, in a statement released on Saturday. “French authorities remain fully mobilized to obtain consular access from Iranian authorities for our compatriot.”
“We urge the Iranian authorities to immediately release Ms. Adelkhah,” Le Drian said.
Adelkhah, a dual French citizen who is a research fellow at the Center for International Studies at Sciences Po University in Paris, was initially arrested in Tehran in June 2019. She was held along with her partner and colleague, the French academic Roland Marchal, also a fellow at Sciences Po.
Marchal was released in March as part of an apparent prisoner swap agreed with the French government: in return, France released the Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, whom a French court had already authorized to be extradited to the United States, where he stood accused of smuggling American military technology into Iran, according to Iranian state media reports cited in Reuters at the time of his release.
When Marchal was freed, President Emmanuel Macron, who had previously sought to position himself as an interlocutor between the Trump administration and Iran, urged the Iranian government to release Adelkhah as well.
In recent years, the Iranian government has arrested several other dual citizens — often journalists and academics — on similar national security or espionage charges.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian employee of the Thompson Reuters Foundation, was arrested trying to leave Iran in 2016, on the charges of plotting against Iran’s government — charges her family has emphatically denied.
The Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian was likewise arrested in Iran in 2014 and convicted of espionage charges in a closed-door trial in 2015, spending 544 days in the Evin prison outside Tehran before his release in January 2016.
Adelkhah has also been held at the Evin prison.