Iran sentences French academic to 6 years in prison

This handout picture taken in 2012 in an unlocated location and released on July 16, 2019 by Sciences Po university shows Franco-Iranian academic Adelkhah Fariba as Iran confirmed on July 16, 2019 her arrest without giving any details of her case. (AFP)
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Updated 17 May 2020

Iran sentences French academic to 6 years in prison

  • The lawyer said his client would only be expected to serve the longer, five-year jail term and added that she intended to appeal

TEHRAN, PARIS: An Iranian court has sentenced a prominent researcher with dual French-Iranian citizenship to six years in prison on security charges, her lawyer said on Saturday.
Fariba Adelkhah was sentenced to five years for “gathering and collusion” against the country’s security and one year for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic system, her lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, told the AP. Dehghan said Adelkhah will appeal the ruling.
Condemning the sentencing, France called on Iran to release the researcher immediately.
“This sentencing is not based on any serious element or fact and is thus a political decision,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Iran, which does not recognize dual nationality for its citizens, has a track record of detaining dual nationals or those with ties to the West.
Iranian officials disclosed in July that Adelkhah had been arrested on espionage charges. Those charges were later dropped but security-related charges remained against her.
Adelkhah and her French fellow researcher Roland Marchal were in Iran’s Evin Prison since last year but authorities released Marchal in March in an apparent prisoner swap for Iranian Jalal Ruhollahnejad, who had been held in France.
Dehghan said Adelkhah has been in high spirits since the release of Marchal. He said she is working as a librarian in the women’s ward of the prison and teaching French to female prisoners.
In December, Adelkhah, an anthropologist who often traveled to Iran to do research, went on a hunger strike to protest her and Marchal’s detention.
“Despite ending her 50-day hunger strike, she is still suffering from its consequences like damage to her kidneys,“ said Dehghan.
Marchal was arrested when he tried to visit Adelkhah, French officials revealed in October. He was held in a men’s ward in Evin on charges of spreading propaganda.

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”