Iran decries French 'pressure' over jailed academics

2 min

Tehran (AFP)

Pressure from France to secure the release of two academics detained in Iran since June is unproductive, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.

Mousavi was responding to remarks made Sunday by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who called the detention of French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and her French colleague Roland Marchal "unacceptable".

"I don't think these kinds of comments and pressure will get them (the French) the results they want," the Iranian spokesman said at a Tehran press conference.

Adelkhah, an expert on Shiite Islam with numerous publications on Iran and Afghanistan, and East Africa expert Marchal are both researchers with Sciences Po University in Paris.

Detained without trial in Iran since June, they are charged with "colluding to commit acts against national security".

France "must let due process take its course", Mousavi said Monday, adding that the two prisoners were "accused and guilty" of security offences.

"We understand some of the concerns of our French friends, but they know themselves that the two (prisoners) are accorded all their legal rights," he said.

Faced with repeated demands from Paris to free Adelkhah and Marchal, Tehran regularly denounces what it calls interference in its domestic affairs.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality and has denied France consular access to Adelkhah. But such visits are guaranteed to Marchal, Mousavi said.

On Friday, a committee supporting the detained pair said that Adelkhah's health was "alarming" since she began a hunger strike on December 24, while Marchal's was "very unstable".

Appearing on a French current affairs show Sunday, Le Drian said "Iran would make a strong gesture" by freeing the two academics.

"We know that they are not in great shape, not always well treated," the minister said.

"We consider their detention unacceptable, we have told the highest authorities this, including President (Hassan) Rouhani."