In a shocking development, Iran has sent the French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah back to prison from house arrest. The unexplained return to prison comes in the midst of extremely delicate talks on the Iranian nuclear program.
Iran sentenced Adelkhah to five years in prison in May 2020 for conspiring against national security. She and her supporters have continuously, firmly denounced these charges as absurd. In October 2020, she was allowed to carry out her sentence at home on house arrest with an electronic bracelet.
The French foreign ministry was astonished at the reimprisonment of Adelkah and called for her immediate release. The foreign ministry said that the reimprisonment came with zero explanation or warning, and will only have negative consequences on the France-Iran relationship.
Talks are underway in Vienna in order to patch up and salvage the 2015 nuclear deal. The French foreign ministry immediately warned that this unexpected move would damage bilateral relations and trust between the world powers and Iran. France and other western powers are involved in the ongoing talks in Vienna.
The Iran nuclear deal in 2015 was agreed upon by Iran, the U.S., France, the UK, Russia, China, and Germany. It offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
In 2018, then-president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal and reimposed sanctions. This prompted Iran to roll back its nuclear deal commitments. The ongoing Vienna talks are an attempt to salvage this deal.
A committee set to support Adelkhah said in a statement that the Iranian government is using her for external or internal purposes “that remain opaque,” but have nothing to do with her or her activities.
Adelkhah is one of at least a dozen western nationals believed to be detained in Iran. Activists and experts say that they are being held as hostages by the Revolutionary Guards in order to extract concessions from western countries.