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Iran, France in Prisoner Swap

Iran, France in Prisoner Swap

Saturday, 21 March, 2020 - 06:00
A member of Iranian Border Guards wears a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the new coronavirus, inside the Shalamcha Border Crossing, March 8, 2020. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani
Asharq Al-Awsat

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

French President Emmanuel Macron urged Iran to also release French researcher Fariba Adelkhah, who is still imprisoned.

The official spoke after Iran's state broadcaster IRIB said on its website that Paris has released Jalal Ruhollahnejad, an Iranian engineer wanted by the US authorities over sanctions charges.

"Roland Gabriel Marchal, who was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for acting against national security ... had his sentence reduced and was released from prison today and handed over to the French embassy in Tehran," IRIB also reported.

France had demanded that Iran release Marchal, a senior researcher at Sciences Po university whose arrest was reported by Paris in mid-October.

There had been talk of an exchange being discussed, but French officials had refused to comment directly, saying only that there had been progress in recent days.

In May, a French court approved the extradition of Rouhollahnejad to the United States to face charges of attempting to illegally import US technology for military purposes on behalf of an Iranian company which US officials said was linked to the Revolutionary Guards.

France has for months also demanded that Iran release Adelkhah who like Marchal was detained in June 2019.

Adelkhah is a citizen of both Iran and France, but Tehran does not recognize dual nationality.

Rights activists have accused Iran of arresting dual nationals and foreign citizens in an attempt to win concessions from other countries.

Iran has in recent months carried out prisoner exchanges with the US, Australia and Germany.

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