TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has indefinitely furloughed a prominent researcher with dual French-Iranian citizenship who was imprisoned on security charges, her lawyer said Sunday.
Although not fully released, Fariba Adelkhah was granted a furlough with no deadline “until further notice,” her lawyer, Saeed Dehghan, told The Associated Press.
Dehghan said Adelkhah has been staying with her sister and brother-in-law in the capital, Tehran, since her release Saturday night. She is required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and must remain within 300 meters (yards) of her sister's home.
“She deserves more than this. She should be freed,” Dehghan said.
Iran has given tens of thousands of prisoners furloughs this year due to fears about the spread of the coronavirus. The country has struggled with both the region’s largest outbreak and the highest number of fatalities.
Abdelkhah's lawyer did not say if her furlough was specifically prompted by virus concerns. But he said Iranian authorities should grant temporary releases to more political prisoners to protect them from the virus.
Iranian officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
In June, an Iranian appeals court upheld a five-year sentence against Adelkhah for “gathering and collusion” against the country’s security. She had also been sentenced to one year for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic system. Under Iranian law, only the longer sentence is served.
Iran, which doesn’t recognize dual nationality for its citizens, has a track record of detaining dual nationals or those with ties to the West.
Adelkhah, an anthropologist who often traveled to Iran to do research, and her French fellow researcher Roland Marchal had been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since last year.
In March, a prisoner exchange was carried out between Iran and France, swapping Marchal for Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad. But there has been little indication that Adelkhah will get a similar release.
Marchal was arrested when he tried to visit Adelkhah, French officials revealed in October.
In December, Adelkhah went on a 50-day hunger strike to protest her and Marchal's imprisonment.
“We met and talked upon her release. She’s in good sprits, although she's weak because of the hunger strike,” Dehghan said.