Iran takes an anthropologist hostage to blackmail EU states

Iran has detained Franco-Iranian dual national Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropology professor at Paris' prestigious Sciences Po university. (Commons Wikimedia/Georges Seguin)
Updated 17 July 2019

Iran takes an anthropologist hostage to blackmail EU states

  • Anger in Paris as academic is arrested on espionage charges
  • France has yet to be given "satisfactory information" on her status

JEDDAH: Iran has arrested a French-Iranian academic as Tehran tries to pressure European states over the collapsing 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program.

Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Sciences Po institute in Paris, was detained three weeks ago on spying charges.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said he had heard about the arrest but did not know who carried it out, which is how Iranian spokesmen usually refer to operations by the intelligence unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Iran has denied French diplomats access to Adelkhah, prompting anger in Paris on Monday. 

“France calls on the Iranian authorities to bring to light Mrs. Adelkhah’s situation and reiterates its requests, in particular the authorization of consular access without delay,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.

"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," she added.

For Tehran, holding hostages is a political and ideological exercise, and a form of leverage against other countries

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, Iranian-American Harvard scholar

Adelkhah’s arrest comes as Tehran seeks leverage with France, the UK and Germany — the European signatories to the 2015 agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — to mitigate the effects of crippling US economic sanctions reimposed since the US withdrew from the deal.

Iran has a track record of jailing dual nationals to use as bargaining chips. They include the Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, the British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and the Swedish-Iranian Dr. Ahmad Reza Jalali.

“For Tehran, holding hostages is a political and ideological exercise, and a form of leverage against other countries,” the Iranian-American Harvard scholar Dr. Majid Rafizadeh told Arab News.

“This pattern has continued for almost four decades. Iran’s hostage-taking is systematic, and a core pillar of its rogue foreign policy. Tehran holds foreign hostages as pawns to extract economic concessions and obtain geopolitical and financial gains.”

Sciences Po, the elite school where Abdelkhah works, confirmed her arrest but refused to comment.

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency quoted government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Sunday acknowledging a dual national had been arrested, without elaborating.

Adelkhah is best known for her book "Being Modern in Iran," about changes in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

(With AFP)

 


Saudi Arabia, other Middle East countries warn citizens after protests erupt in Lebanon

Updated 1 min 41 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, other Middle East countries warn citizens after protests erupt in Lebanon

  • Arab embassies called on citizens to take care while in Lebanon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Lebanon called on its citizens to avoid places where protests are taking place in the country on Friday. 

The Kingdom’s embassy in Beirut advised its nationals to take care and to “stay away from places of protest,” Al-Ekhbariya news channel reported. 

Egypt’s embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut also called on its nationals in the country to avoid protest areas, Egyptian state news agency MENA said.

“The embassy calls on all Egyptian citizens in Lebanon to avoid the areas of gatherings and protests, to be careful in their movements and to abide by the instructions of the Lebanese authorities in this regard,” MENA said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s embassy in Lebanon asked citizens wishing to travel to Lebanon to wait because of the current protests and unrest.

“The embassy also calls on citizens currently in Lebanon to take utmost care and stay away from crowds and demonstrations,” the embassy said in its tweet.

Protesters across Lebanon blocked roads with burning tires on Friday and thousands marched in Beirut, calling on the government to resign over an economic crisis.