Friday, 05 June, 2020


Iran releases French academic in apparent prisoner exchange

Jalal Ruhollahnejad an Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad an Iranian engineer
Bennie Garza | 25 March, 2020, 13:57

Iranian authorities have released French academic Roland Marchal, who has been imprisoned in Iran since June 2019, a French presidency official said on Saturday, Trend reports citing Retuers.

Macron said in a statement he was "pleased" by the release of Roland Marchal, held by Iran for more than nine months on charges of violating state security laws.

France has for months demanded that Iran release Marchal and his partner, Fariba Adelkhah, who were detained previous year accused of plotting against national security. He was handed over in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad to a team from Switzerland, which represents US interests in the absence of diplomatic relations, and flown to Tehran, the US State Department said.

Their concerns had increased due to the accelerated spread of COVID-19 in Iran, one of the most affected countries in the world with a death toll of 1,556 on Saturday.

Iranian state broadcaster IRIB reported on March 20 that Jalal Rohollahnejad, who was detained by France in February 2019 under a US extradition warrant, had been released.

It is being said that Iran has also exchanged prisoners with the US, Australia and Germany in recent months. Iranian state television later said he was already on a flight back to Iran's capital, Tehran.

In May 2019 a French court approved Ruhollahnejad's extradition to the United States to face charges of attempting to illegally import U.S. technology for military purposes on behalf of an Iranian company, a judicial source told Reuters. Fariba has dual citizenship of Iran and France but Iran considers it her own citizen.

On March 11, a French court ordered Jalal to extradite the U.S., but the government changed the court order and released the Iranian engineer.

He said Mr Marchal was accused of "collusion against national security", while Ms Adelkhah was accused of espionage, spreading "propaganda against the political system" and "conspiracy against national security", Mr Dehghan said.

Their Paris-based support group has repeatedly said that the two are innocent of the charges.

On Friday, Persian New Year's Day, Iran announced an exchange of detainees between Paris and Tehran.

Among them are Iranian-British Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an employee of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who obtained temporary permission to leave prison on Tuesday.

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