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Iranian authorities on Friday released from prison French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was first arrested in June 2019 and was serving a five-year sentence on national security charges vehemently denied by supporters, a source close to her said.
The source, who asked not to be named, told AFP Adelkhah had been freed from Tehran’s Evin prison but added it was not immediately clear if she would be able to leave her home and return to France.
Up until Adelkhah’s release, seven French citizens were being held by Iran, according to the French foreign ministry.
They are among two dozen foreign nationals campaigners say Iran has jailed in a strategy of hostage-taking to extract concessions from the West.
C’est avec bonheur et soulagement que nous annonçons la libération de notre chère collègue Fariba Adelkhah, détenue arbitrairement en Iran depuis plus de 3 ans. Otage des autorités locales, elle était une prisonnière scientifique. Merci à tous ceux qui ont permis sa libération.
— Sciences Po (@sciencespo) February 10, 2023
Last month Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna had demanded the “immediate release of the seven French hostages arbitrarily detained” by Tehran in telephone talks with her Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
Iran erupted into protests in September, following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini after she was arrested for allegedly violating the Islamic republic’s strict dress rules.
Adelkhah’s release comes a day after Iran freed a total of seven women from Even prison.
They included campaigner Saba Kordafshari, held since 2019 after she campaigned against the obligatory hijab for women, and prominent photographer Alieh Motalebzadeh whose latest stint in jail began in April last year.
Iran Friday also released Farhad Meysami, a doctor and human rights campaigner, who had been refusing food for several weeks over the authorities’ response to the protests, his lawyer said.
Images of his emaciated body while on hunger strike had caused international concern.
Motalebzadeh wrote on Twitter that Adelkhah was among half a dozen more prisoners released on Friday.
A picture also circulated on social media of a smiling Adelkhah in a car apparently being driven away from prison.
It was not clear if the releases were linked to an announcement by the office of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that he had agreed to pardon a large number of convicts, including those detained over the protests.
Rights activists have urged scepticism over the announcements, noting many prominent figures remain in jail and activists continue to be arrested.
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