Middle East

French researchers in Iranian jail petition to get married

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Two French researchers held for months in a Tehran prison on charges of violating Iran’s state security laws have petitioned prison authorities to allow them to get married, their lawyer said Friday.

The two — Fariba Adelkhah Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, both in their 60s — filed separate requests to Evin prison authorities, according to their lawyer, Saeid Dehghan. He also expressed concerns for Adelkhah’s deteriorating health amid a hunger strike that she has been on since December.

Iranian officials disclosed last July that Adelkhah, a dual French-Iranian national and a prominent anthropologist who often traveled to Iran for research on post-revolutionary Iranian society, had been arrested on espionage charges. Those charges were later dropped but security-related charges remain against her.

Adelkhah’s fellow researcher Marchal was arrested as he tried to visit her, France revealed in October. He is being held in a men’s ward in Evin on charges of spreading propaganda.

In December, France summoned Iranian envoy to Paris, saying it considered the months-long detention of Adelkhah and Marchal “unacceptable” and sought permission for consular officials to visit them.

Dehghan told The Associated Press that the French Embassy has had consular access only to Marchal. Iran doesn’t recognize dual nationality for its citizens.

He said a decision on whether his clients will be allowed to get married is expected next week. They have been partners for 38 years in France, he added.

“If permitted to marry, they will be able to meet and see each other inside the prison,” he said, explaining that Iranian laws prohibit extra-marital relations.

In December, Adelkhah went on hunger strike to protest her and Marchal’s detention.

“She remains on hunger strike, her legs are weak and she walks with difficulties,” the lawyer said and added, without elaborating, that “her kidneys have faced some problems.”

Iran is holding several foreign and dual nationals, including five U.S.-Iranian nationals. A prisoner exchange in December saw Tehran Iran free a Chinese-American scholar from Princeton who had been held for three years on widely criticized espionage charges.

It was seen as a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the U.S. However, it came prior to the U.S. killing of Iran’s top general in Iraq in January, which has dramatically escalated tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Earlier, two Australians were freed in October while Australia freed an Iranian in what appeared to be a prisoner swap.

Reporting by Nasser Karimi

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

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