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Hospitalised French-Iranian researcher back in jail

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Tehran (AFP)

A French-Iranian academic jailed since June, Fariba Adelkhah, has returned to her Tehran prison cell after being hospitalised, her lawyer said Saturday, voicing concern over the health of inmates due to the spread of the new coronavirus in the country.

Said Dehghan said his client had been taken back to the women's section of Evin prison but was still complaining of kidney pain.

The lawyer added that he had called for conjugal visits to Evin prisoners to be suspended to prevent any spread of the virus at the jail, a call he said authorities accepted.

Adelkhah, a research director at Sciences Po University in Paris, is due to go on trial on March 3 on charges including conspiring against national security.

She was transferred to a prison hospital after her health deteriorated as "a consequence of the (six-week) hunger strike" which she ended on February, the lawyer said Tuesday.

As Iran struggles to contain a surge in new cases of COVID-19, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian woman also jailed in Tehran, believes she has contracted the virus, her husband said on Saturday.

The Free Nazanin Campaign said that although there were reports of at least one coronavirus-related inmate death inside Evin prison, staff had refused to test her.

In a statement issued via the campaign, Zaghari-Ratcliffe said: "I am not good. I feel very bad in fact. It is a strange cold. Not like usual. I know the kinds of cold I normally have, how my body reacts."

Iran's health ministry on Saturday reported nine new deaths from coronavirus and a 53 percent jump in infections over the previous 24 hours, taking the overall totals to 43 deaths among 593 cases.

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