Roland Marchal, a researcher at the Institute of Political Studies, has been detained in Iran since the summer, Le Figaro reports on Wednesday (October 16th). This French specialist in the Horn of Africa is a colleague of Fariba Adelkhah, a Franco-Iranian research director at Sciences Po's International Research Center in Paris, who was arrested in June by the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, who say they suspect her of espionage.

Two sources familiar with the case confirmed to Reuters that Roland Marchal was well held in Iran, without giving more details given the sensitivity of the subject. No comments could be obtained immediately from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Quoting a relative of Roland Marchal, Le Figaro writes that the researcher, frequently asked by the editorial staff of France 24, was transferred to a standard prison and was able to receive visits from French diplomats.

On 9 October, France issued a warning to French nationals against any plans to travel to Iran "mainly because of the arbitrary arrest and detention practices of the Iranian security and intelligence services".

"These services are, in general, very intrusive, especially with regard to the contacts of foreign nationals with the population, particularly the university environments that are subject to special surveillance," the government added.

Fariba Adelkhah deprived of consular access

Iran has so far refused to hear France's calls for the release of Fariba Adelkhah, calling them interference in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic. She also refused consular access to the 60-year-old anthropologist, who spoke on France 24's radio station on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

These detentions are likely to further complicate Paris' efforts to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran. Another incident occurred on Monday with the announcement by the Revolutionary Guards of the capture in Paris and the repatriation to Iran of Rouhollah Zam. This journalist and Iranian opponent living in France for about ten years is accused by the Iranian elite unit of having conducted an operation intended to "sow discord and spread the lie".

French officials have so far not responded to requests for comments on the issue.

Human rights activists criticize Iran's arrest of Iranians with dual nationality, who claim they seek concessions from other countries.

The Islamic Republic has in the past already detained and sentenced French nationals. In 2010, the university Clotilde Reiss, who was arrested in 2009 and sentenced to two terms of five years in prison for "espionage", had finally been fined and returned to France.

With Reuters