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.