Macron demands answers over Iranian arrest 

Macron demands answers over Iranian arrest 

French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Iran to explain the arrest last month of Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah amid Macron’s efforts to defuse tension between Tehran and Washington. 

Adelkhah, a 60-year-old researcher, was arrested in Iran by the revolutionary guard on spying charges, according to the Iranian media. 

“What’s happened worries me a lot. We were informed for several days and I had the opportunity to express not only my disagreement but my desire to have clarifications from President [Hassan] Rouhani,” Macron told the media. 

“I’m waiting for the clarifications but it’s obvious that France protects its citizens. No explanations at this stage have been given to me to explain in a valid way this arrest.”

The arrest of the anthropologist, who works at Sciences Po in Paris, comes as France is trying to de-escalate tension after Donald Trump broke the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. 

France’s foreign ministry demanded consular access to her “without delay”. 

British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with Reuters, has been jailed in Tehran since 2016 on sedition charges. The detention has deepened tensions with Britain.

The issue was complicated when the UK’s current prime ministerial frontrunner, Boris Johnson, while foreign secretary, blundered when being quizzed by MPs and said she was in Iran teaching journalism. 

The off-the-cuff remark was seized on in Tehran and used to undermine the family’s defence that she had been visiting relatives. 

Iran has previously arrested and charged French citizens, including in 2009 when a detainee was held for a year.

The Iranian authorities have been criticised for its arrests of dual nationals amid allegations that it hopes to use them to squeeze concessions from other countries. In April, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif offered a prisoner swap in exchange for Iranians held in the United States.

Iran denies holding detainees for ransom and accuses the west of arresting Iranians for bogus reasons.

In 2016, Iran freed five US citizens in a prisoner exchange as the nuclear agreement was being implemented under President Barack Obama.

Tanker seizure?

Iran is being accused of seizing a small oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz after its tracker stopped transmitting its location.

The Panama-flagged Riah was in Iranian waters near the island of Qeshm (pictured), which is home to a Revolutionary Guard base, a US defence spokesman said.

The Riah was travelling from the United Arab Emirates and did not emit a distress call, the UAE said.


Qeshm in the strategically sensitive Strait of Hormuz. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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