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Six year prison sentence for visiting Iran

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Six year prison sentence for visiting Iran
  • 58-year-old arrested at Tehran Airport in March
  • 2009 espionage trial abandoned after France intervened
  • Fears of ‘western infiltration’
  • Several other returnees also being held

What is happening?

A French-Iranian citizen has been sentenced to six years in jail after she returned to Tehran to visit her critically-ill mother.

Former French embassy employee Nazak Afshar was arrested last month when she arrived at the city’s airport.

The Iranian authorities have not made the charges against the 58-year-old public, nor commented on the case.

What is the background?

Afshar, who has dual citizenship, was arrested and tried in 2009 on charges of spying and acting against Iran’s national security.

No verdict was handed down.

She was freed and left the country after the French government intervened in the case.

‘Western infiltration’?

The potential opening-up to the West after last year’s nuclear deal has alarmed hardliners in Iran.

Some think Afshar’s arrest could be part of a crackdown against what some officials have portrayed as ‘Western infiltration’.

Have any other returnees been arrested?


Several other dual-nationality citizens or expatriates have been arrested when they have returned to visit Iran.

  • Sabri Hassanpour, host of the online “Simay-e Rahahi” (Liberation TV), based in the Netherlands.
  • Kamal Foroughi, 76-year-old Iranian-Briton arrested
    in 2011
  • Siamak Namazi, Iranian-US citizen
  • Namazi’s 80-year-old father, Baquer

Officials say most are facing charges of spying.

A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary says four have recently been sentenced for their connections to foreign countries.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality.

What they are saying

“Five people who were arrested recently for their connections outside the country have been put on trial and four of them have received their sentences.” – Iranian judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejel speaks to the Tasnim news agency.