Iran sentences French academic to 5-yr prison for remarks on Islamic dress

Iran has sentenced Fariba Adelkhah, French-Iranian activist and academic, to five years in prison on national security charges on May 11, according to a news agency.

The court found Adelkhah guilty of hatching conspiracy against the Islamic Republic endangering its national security. She was “sentenced to five years for gathering and conspiring against national security, and one year for propaganda against the Islamic republic,” her lawyer Said Dehghan told the agency. Earlier in January, an espionage charge against her was dropped.

According to the lawyer, his client would only be expected to serve the longer, five-year jail term and added that she intended to appeal. Adelkhah, a specialist in Shiite Islam and a research director at Sciences Po university in Paris, was arrested in June last year.

Although the academic holds citizenship of Iran and France, Tehran does not recognise dual nationality. Her trial started on March 3 with the last hearing held on April 19 at branch 15 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court.

Adelkhah’s French colleague and partner Roland Marchal, who was detained along with her, was released in March in an apparent prisoner swap.  Marchal was freed after France released Iranian engineer Jallal Rohollahnejad, who faced extradition to the United States over accusations he violated US sanctions against Iran.

Dehghan said Marchal’s release gives grounds for appeal against the charge of “gathering and conspiring against national security”. “At least two people must be involved for this charge to stand,” he told the agency.

Adelkhah’s defence team also plans to argue that her personal academic opinion regarding the Islamic dress code enforced in Iran cannot amount to “propaganda against a political system.”