Iran holding academic ‘for political aims’ says France

Franco-Iranian academic Adelkhah Fariba had her five-year sentence upheld. (AFP)
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Updated 30 June 2020

Iran holding academic ‘for political aims’ says France

  • Fariba Adelkhah was arrested in Tehran in June, 2019

PARIS: France on Tuesday accused Iran of holding French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah “only for political aims,” after the judiciary upheld a five-year jail sentence against her.
Adelkhah, a prominent anthropologist specializing in Shia Islam, was arrested in Tehran on June 5, 2019, and has been held behind bars ever since.
“We condemn this decision by the Iranian authorities who persist in holding Mrs.Fariba Adelkhah only for political aims, in the absence of any serious evidence or fact,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
“We remain determined to secure the release of our compatriot,” it added.
In May Adelkhah had been ordered to serve five years in prison after being convicted on national security charges.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili confirmed Tuesday that the sentence had been upheld.
She will “serve five years” including time served since her arrest, Esmaili told journalists.
The French foreign ministry said this could only have a negative impact on relations “and substantially reduces the confidence between our two countries.”
A France-based support committee for Adelkhah denounced the ruling as a “parody of justice.”
It called for her release, especially given the spread of COVID-19 in Iran, with Adelkhah still weak after a 49-day hunger strike she waged from December to February.
Relations between Tehran and Paris have deteriorated in the past year.
Both were parties to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
But last week, France was among the countries that passed a resolution at the UN’s nuclear watchdog calling on Iran to clarify whether it had undertaken undeclared nuclear activities in the early 2000s — a move condemned by the Islamic republic.
Also Tuesday, the Iranian judiciary said that Iranian opposition activist Ruhollah Zam had been sentenced to death following his arrest last year.
Zam, a refugee for several years in France, disappeared on a trip to Baghdad in October. Paris-based Press rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has accused Iran of abducting him in Iraq to face trial back home.


Bahrain says it broke up militant attack plot in early 2020

Updated 39 min 36 sec ago

Bahrain says it broke up militant attack plot in early 2020

  • The plot targeting diplomats and foreign nationals was foiled earlier in the year
  • Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street believed to have been planted to target a ‘foreign delegation’

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: Bahrain said Monday it broke up a plot by militants backed by Iran earlier this year to launch attacks on diplomats and foreigners in the island nation home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
The announcement came hours after Saudi state television and a Bahraini local newspaper implied the plot was new in their reporting Sunday night, just days after the island kingdom normalized relations with Israel. Bahraini government officials, who routinely claim breaking up plots by militants backed by Iran, did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press over the confusion.
The details of the plot became public as tensions between Iran and the US remain high after the Trump administration claimed to have re-invoked all United Nations sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program — something disputed by other world powers. The militants reportedly sought revenge for the US drone strike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in January, something long threatened by his colleagues in Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
Iran’s mission to the UN dismissed Bahrain’s claim of Tehran being involved as just “another instance in a long line of preposterous and false allegations, with no basis in truth.”
“It appears there is no limit to Iran-bashing by the US and its client states in the region, who are trying to divert attention from their recent betrayal to Palestinians and their own people,” mission spokesman Alireza Miryousefi told the AP.
The Saudi state TV report aired previously unseen footage of what appeared to be police raiding a home with a hidden passage. The footage showed assault rifles and explosives, apparently seized in the raid.
Nine militants have been arrested, while another nine are believed to be in Iran, the Saudi state TV report said.
Authorities uncovered the plot after finding an explosive on the street believed to have been planted to target a “foreign delegation,” the pro-government Bahraini newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej reported, citing the Interior Ministry. The ministry accused the Guard of supporting the militants, who also had surveilled oil sites and military bases, the newspaper said. The militants also planned on assassinating bodyguards of Bahraini officials, the newspaper said.
It wasn’t clear when all the arrests and alleged plots took place, as the Akhbar Al-Khaleej report referred to incidents dating as far back as 2017. The newspaper linked the militants to the Al-Ashtar Brigade, a Shiite group that has claimed responsibility for a number of bombings and attacks in Bahrain, including two that killed police. The group has been sanctioned by the US
Bahrain’s Interior Ministry later published what it described as a “clarification” saying the cases dated to the start of the year and “is not new.” However, media is tightly controlled on the island and access to such trials is routinely limited, suggesting authorities at the least encouraged the initial reporting.
Bahrain is home to the 5th Fleet, which patrols the waterways of the Mideast. Officials have worried in the past that the sailors and Marines attached to the base in Manama could be targeted, as well as others who make up the 7,000 American troops there. Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich, a spokeswoman for the 5th Fleet, declined to comment and referred questions to the Bahraini government.
Bahrain, an island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, just last week normalized relations with Israel alongside the United Arab Emirates, in part over their joint suspicion of Iran. The UAE has said their move also pushed Israel to halt its contentious plan to annex occupied West Bank land sought by the Palestinians. Civil society groups in Bahrain have opposed the normalization decision.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the reported arrests in Bahrain.
Iran under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had pushed to take over Bahrain after the British left the country, although Bahrainis in 1970 overwhelmingly supported becoming an independent nation and the UN Security Council unanimously backed that. Since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Bahrain’s rulers have blamed Iran for arming militants on the island. Iran denies the accusations.