Fariba Adelkhah—French-Iranian Academic “Jailed for Six Years” in Iran

On May 16, 2020, Iran’s judiciary handed French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah a five-year term for conspiring against national security and one year for propaganda, her lawyer Saeid Dehghan said.



Adelkhah, 61, is a director of research at Sciences Po’s Centre for International Studies (CERI). She is a well-known anthropologist and researcher on Iran and Shiite Islam. She was detained in June 2019 along with her French colleague Roland Marchal.


On March 21, 2020, Iran freed Roland Marchal after a prisoner swap with France.


Prior to her arrest, Adelkhah has traveled frequently between the two countries and had spent nearly a year in Iran where her family lives, friend and fellow academic Jean-Francois Bayart told AFP. According to Banegas, Marchal and Adelkhah were in a romantic relationship. Both scholars have been accused of “propaganda against the system” and “colluding to commit acts against national security.”


Iran does not recognize dual nationality and has denied Adelkhah access to French consular staff.


On December 24, 2019, Adelkhah went on a hunger strike with the Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert at Tehran’s Evin prison, according to Science Po. Adelkhah ended the hunger strike on February 12, 2020, after fears for her health were expressed. Eleven days later, she was admitted to the prison’s hospital for severe kidney damage.

Iran, one of the countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, has temporarily released around 85,000 prisoners due to fear of the novel coronavirus. However, most foreign and dual national academics remain incarcerated. Political prisoners and foreign academics such as the British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Ahmadreza Djalali, and Fariba Adelkhah have also been excluded from the furlough.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the ongoing detention of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to call for Adelkhah’s immediate and unconditional release; to urge the officials of the Iranian government to end the tactic of taking of dual citizen scholars and students hostage for political gains; and to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights.


Endangered Scholars Worldwide is deeply concerned about the arbitrary detention of dual nationals in response to their exercise of the rights to academic freedom, free expression, and free association, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both to which Iran is a party. The ongoing tensions in Iran have a profoundly unsettling effect on academic freedom and represent a grave threat to higher education on an international scale.

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