Home>The facts about Fariba Adelkhah

The facts about Fariba Adelkhah


Last updated on 19/10/2023

Fariba Adelkhah is free and back in France

What remains are all the gestures of friendship and commitment, the engagement of people both known and unknown, friends for a day and friends for ever.

Sciences Po is relieved to announce the return to France of Fariba Adelkhah, a Franco-Iranian researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre for international studies (CERI). She was detained in Iran from June 2019 to February 2023.

A recognised specialist in Shiism and post-revolutionary Iran, Fariba Adelkhah was sentenced in May 2020 to five years' imprisonment. Since then, the Sciences Po communities have relentlessly called for her release.

On Tuesday 17 October 2023, Fariba Adelkhah finally returned to France. On her arrival at the airport, she was greeted by Béatrice Hibou, president of her support committee, and Mathias Vicherat, director of Sciences Po.

Read the words she wrote to all those who supported her but also to those who are still imprisoned, provided by her support committee.

"After she has been deprived of her freedom for so long, what a thrill it is to welcome back our colleague Fariba, a symbol of our battle for academic freedom! I solemnly thank the French authorities for their unremitting action, the support committee and all those who worked for her release. I look forward to seeing Fariba back at Sciences Po, her home, soon." 

Mathias Vicherat - Director of Sciences Po.

Section #faq

Informations and FAQ

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, both researchers at Sciences Po, were arrested in Iran on 5 June 2019.

From December 2019 to February 2020, Fariba Adelkhah, along with Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian researcher was also incarcerated in Iran, led a hunger strike that lasted 49 days. She still suffers from side effects of this hunger strike.

Roland Marchal was released on the 20 March 2020.

The leaders’ accusation against Fariba Adelkhah was “propaganda against the Islamic Republic’s political system” and “collusion to undermine national security.” Only the latter charge was applied to Roland Marchal. Fariba Adelkhah was condemned to five years in prison on 16 May 2020.

In October 2020, Fariba Adelkhah was awarded the distinction of doctor honoris causa by the Geneva University.

On 15 December 2020,  Fariba Adelkhah was awarded the 2020 Irène Joliot-Curie Prize (FR) for Woman Scientist of the Year, awarded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation for her research in anthropology and political science. 

During 15 months, from October 2020 to December 2021, Fariba was placed under house arrest under an electronic bracelet and prohibited from going outside beyond a perimeter of 300 meters round her home. Unfortunately, she was reincarcerated on 12 January 2022 in Evin prison where she still is, in the women's section.

Upon receiving news of the arrests of Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, our institution immediately implemented a series of actions in close collaboration with the Crisis and Support Centre of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and the CNRS. With the help of the MEAE, we have ensured that both Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal receive the assistance of a highly experienced Iranian lawyer. 

Sciences Po and the French authorities continue to do their utmost to ensure that Fariba Adelkhah is definitively released, in an Iranian political context which, as is common knowledge, is particularly complex.

Many events (meetings, demonstrations, conferences, seminars, human chains…) were organised to support Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, and after March 2020 in support of Fariba alone. 

Discover some of the events from the last to the very first:

1 March 2022: A gathering was organised in front of the Paris City Hall in support of Fariba Adelkhah, to mark the thousandth day of her imprisonment.

Sciences Po's new President, Mathias Vicherat, affirms his support of our colleague.

On the 13 January 2022, Sciences Po, having learned of her reincarceration the night before, organised a gathering in solidarity with Fariba in front of Sciences Po.

On 5 June 2021, Sciences Po showed its unfailing support to Fariba Adelkhah on the occasion of the two-year anniversary of her imprisonment. Many French and international colleagues, friends, acquaintances and personalities joined the call for her release, including the president of the Ligue des Droits de l'Homme Malik Salemkour, the CEO of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) Antoine Petit, the Anglo-Australian academic and former detainee in Iran Kylie Moore-Gilbert and Roland Marchal, CNRS researcher at the CERI, former detainee in Iran arrested alongside Fariba Adelkhah.

The Paris City Hall also unveiled a banner in support of the researcher.

On 25 April 2021, for Fariba Adelkhah's birthday, the support committee created a book-exhibition of her wood and leather collages made during her imprisonment. The collages are accompanied by a text written by the researcher, opening a window on daily life in Evin prison.

On 5 June 2020, which marked 1 year of Fariba Adelkhah's incarceration, Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, called for Fariba Adelkhah's liberation. :

A support rally was held on 3 March 2020, in front of Sciences Po in Paris:

A portrait of Fariba Adelkhah was also enveiled on the side of the Mairie de Paris.

Section #fariba-adelkhah

Who is Fariba Adelkhah?

Fariba Adelkhah was born in Teheran in 1959, her family comes from the Iranian province of Khorassan (a region that fronts the border with Afghanistan). She came to France in 1977 to pursue her university education, first at the University of Strasbourg and then at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). A specialist in social anthropology and the political anthropology of post-revolutionary Iran, Adelkhah has been a researcher at the Centre for International Research since 1993. Her early work considered the position of women in the Islamic Revolution, culminating in her first publication, Revolution under the Veil: Islamic Women of Iran (French edition, Karthala, 1991). She then edited several issues of scientific journals and published — in addition to numerous articles, studies and chapters in collective works, and information books intended for a non-university audience — two major anthropology works devoted to Iran that are now considered as classics of the discipline: Being modern in Iran (The CERI Series in Comparative Politics and International Studies, London : Hurst & Company, 2000) and The thousand and one borders of Iran: Travel and Identity (Iranian Studies, London: Routledge, 2015). Her main works have been translated into various languages, including English.

Her current research examines the movement of Shia clerics between Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. A researcher of the field, renowned and respected among peers internationally, Fariba Adelkhah is a member of various academic committees and of the journals, Iranian Studies and Revue des mondes musulmans de la Méditerranée.

Adelkhah possesses dual nationality, Iranian and French.

Section #roland-marchal

Who is Roland Marchal?

Roland Marchal is a sociologist with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and he has worked as a researcher at the Centre for International Studies of Sciences Po (CERI) since 1997. Roland is one of the most internationally renowned specialists on Somalia, but also on the Horn of Africa, Chad, Central African Republic and Mali. Roland also addressed theories of the “failed state”, especially drawing on his research in Somalia.

He was, with the late Christine Messiant, among the first few to criticize the reductionism of economic theories about civil wars in two groundbreaking papers published in the journal Critique internationale. Their common research, published as Les Chemins de la guerre et de la paix. Fins de conflit en Afrique orientale et australe (Karthala, 1997), demonstrated how civil wars in Sub-saharan Africa and beyond are intimately interrelated to the fabric of the state. This thinking was also the central thesis of the seminal book he co-edited with Pierre Hassner: Guerres et sociétés. Etats et violence après la Guerre froide (Karthala, 2003).

After spending over nine months as an academic prisoner in Iran, Roland Marchal was released from Evin prison and returned to France on March 21, 2020.

Read his full bio