Iran frees German prisoner, sets trial for French scholars

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French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah, who was arrested in Iran on security-related charges. — Courtesy photo

TEHRAN — Iran on Tuesday released a German prisoner who was detained in the country as part of a prisoner swap, as the trial date for two detained French scholars was set for next month.

Iran said Tuesday that a German held in Iran has been released as part of a prisoner swap for an Iranian held in Germany on suspicion of violating US sanctions.

“We announced that we are ready to (release) this German national... on condition that they (the Germans) do not extradite our citizen to America,” judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said.

“On Sunday... the Iranian national left Germany and entered Iran, and on Monday... we released the German national,” he told a televised news conference.

Tehran has repeatedly jailed dual citizens in recent years, mostly on espionage charges.

Meanwhile, the trial of two French scholars held in Iran was set to begin on March 3, their lawyers told AFP. France has called for the release of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and her French colleague Roland Marchal, who had been detained since June.

Iran has rejected France’s call as an interference at Tehran’s state matters.

“We do not recognize dual nationality. She is Iranian. We do not let other states to interfere in our judiciary matters. Their court session will be on March 3,” Esmaili said.

Adelkhah’s lawyer told Reuters last month that Iran had dropped spying charges against Adelkhah but she faced other security-related charges.

The issue has complicated ties between Tehran and Paris, both parties to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Washington exited the deal in 2018 and has reimposed sanctions that has hit Iran’s economy hard.

Iran sentenced eight environmentalists to prison terms of between four and 10 years for spying for and collaborating with the US, the spokesman for the country’s judiciary said on Tuesday. — AFP


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