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French-Iranian academic was arrested in Iran in June, says French foreign ministry

Fariba Adelkhah, a researcher in anthropology and social sciences, has been denied access to consular staff, according to French officials
Fariba Adelkhah at the Salon du Livre in Paris (Wikimedia)

A French-Iranian academic based at a prestigious Paris university was arrested in Iran and has been denied contact with consular staff ever since, the French foreign ministry said on Monday.

Fariba Adelkhah, a dual national and prominent researcher in anthropology and social sciences at Sciences Po, was arrested in Iran in June by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) for spying, according to media reports over the weekend.

In a statement on Monday, the French Foreign Ministry said it required immediate consular access to Adelkhah.

"The French authorities in this difficult context have taken steps with Iranian authorities to get information from them on her situation and the conditions of her arrest and asked for consular access as is foreseen in these circumstances, a necessary precursor for her quick release," said spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll.

"No satisfactory response has been given to these requests. France calls on the Iranian authorities to bring to light Mrs Adelkhah's situation and reiterates its requests, in particular, the authorisation of consular access without delay."

Ali Rabiei, a spokesperson for the Iranian government, was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency as saying he had heard reports about the arrest but could give no more information.

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Though Iran has previously arrested and charged French citizens in the past - including in 2005 and 2009 - the arrest of Adelkhah comes at a particularly tense time for Iran-EU relations.

France and other EU nations have been attempting to mediate between Iran and the US after the latter withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic last year. On Monday, European diplomats are meeting in Brussels to try to save the deal.

Adelkhah is the latest Iranian national also holding a western passport to be arrested in Iran.

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges she denies.

Dual Iranian-American nationals Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer are serving 10-year sentences for espionage in a case that has outraged Washington.

Meanwhile, Chinese-American Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University researcher, is serving a 10-year sentence for espionage and US national Michael White, 46, was this year also sentenced to 10 years.