France summons Iranian ambassador over imprisoned academics

Ambassador ‘reminded’ of French demand to Iran to release academics from Tehran jail.

Adelkhah Fariba
Fariba Adelkhah, 60, is a well-known expert on Iran and Shia Islam at Sciences Po university [Thomas Arrive/Scienes Po/AFP]

France’s foreign ministry has summoned the Iranian ambassador over the detention of two French academics, expressing “grave concern” that one is now on a hunger strike.

In a statement on Friday, the ministry said the Iranian envoy “was reminded of France‘s demand that Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal are released without delay and that the Iranian authorities show total transparency over their situation”.

Adelkhah and Marchal, both academics at Sciences Po in Paris, have been held by the Iranian authorities since June.

The university said this month that Adelkhah and another detained academic, Australian Kylie Moore-Gilbert, had started a hunger strike.

All three are detained in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Iranian officials disclosed in July the arrest of Adelkhah, a prominent anthropologist who often travelled to Iran for her research on post-revolutionary Iranian society. They said she was arrested on espionage charges.

Her friend and fellow researcher Marchal was arrested as he tried to visit her, France revealed in October. He is being held in a men’s ward.

Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne scholar on the Middle East, has been jailed since October 2018.

On Thursday, the Center for Human Rights in Iran published a letter she addressed in June to Australia’s prime minister, pleading for help, and an update this month in which she begs him “to take immediate action”.

Two Australians were freed from Iran in October while Australia freed an Iranian in what appeared to be a prisoner swap. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said at the time that Moore-Gilbert’s situation was “more complex”.

Meanwhile, Iran indicated a willingness to make prisoner exchanges with the United States after freeing a Chinese-American scholar from Princeton held for three years in a prisoner swap.

A fellow scholar and friend of Adelkhah, Jean-Francois Bayart, and researcher Beatrice Hibou wrote in Thursday’s Le Monde newspaper that the women’s determination should not be doubted.

They noted that Adelkhah had earlier created a discussion group for women on Telegram, an encrypted social network, calling it the Lionesses.

“Having known her for a long time, we know she is ready to die like a lion to defend her freedom, that of her job and her dignity,” they wrote.

Source: News Agencies