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Iranians, some wearing protective face masks as a means of protection against the novel coronavirus, choose green sprouts as part of the seven traditional items set on a table, ahead of Nowruz, the national New Year 2-week celebration, at the Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran on March 19. Image Credit: AFP

Tehran: Iran has announced another 123 deaths from the new coronavirus, bringing its overall toll to 1,556 amid 20,610 confirmed cases. The Health Ministry announced the latest figures Saturday. Iran is struggling to combat the worst outbreak in the Middle East, and has faced widespread criticism for its slow response.

Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron announced Saturday that Iran had freed a French researcher imprisoned in the Islamic republic after France released an Iranian threatened with extradition to the US.

Macron “is happy to announce the release of Roland Marchal, imprisoned in Iran since June 2019” but he “urges the Iranian authorities to immediately free” Fariba Adelkhah, an anthropologist, his office said.

France has for months demanded that Iran release Adelkhah and her partner Marchal, who were detained in June 2019, accused of plotting against national security. Their trial began in early March.

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

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

Marchal is due in France later Saturday, according to Macron’s office.

Iranian judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online reported Iranian Jallal Rohollahnejad had been freed by France on Friday. Iranian state TV later said he was already on a flight back to Tehran.