Iran General NewsSarkozy presses Iran to release second French detainee

Sarkozy presses Iran to release second French detainee

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ImageAFP: President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed the release Tuesday of a French embassy worker from a Tehran prison but called on Iran to free a young Frenchwoman still held there on spy charges.

ImagePARIS (AFP) — President Nicolas Sarkozy welcomed the release Tuesday of a French embassy worker from a Tehran prison but called on Iran to free a young Frenchwoman still held there on spy charges.

Sarkozy "has learned with great joy and relief of the release from prison of Mrs Nazak Afshar, a worker at the cultural service of the embassy who was detained, as Clotilde Reiss still is," said a statement from his office.

Reiss, a lecturer, and Afshar, a French-Iranian dual national, are among defendants tried on charges related to huge protests across Iran after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared re-elected in June.

Reiss, 24, has been accused of spying and taking part in a Western plot to destabilise the government of the Islamic republic.

Sarkozy spoke to Afshar after she was released, the French presidency said, adding that he was calling for Reiss, being held in the same prison, "to be freed without delay."

The president also expressed his "gratitude to the countries of the EU and other friendly states, such as Syria, who gave us their support in this first phase."

The French government has denounced the women's trial as a travesty of justice and repeatedly demanded that the charges be dropped and the pair be released.

According to the Iranian news agency IRNA, Reiss admitted in court that she had filed a report on protests in the city of Isfahan to the cultural department of the French embassy in Tehran.

Iran's ambassador to Paris said earlier Tuesday that Tehran had offered to to let Reiss live in the French embassy until her trial ended but had received no reply yet from French authorities.

The French foreign ministry responded by summoning the ambassador to inform him that "his declarations implying that the French authorities were not doing all in their power to secure the release of Clotilde Reiss were inexact."

It added in a statement that France had informed Tehran several weeks ago that the embassy was ready to receive Reiss if she were freed, "which is not yet the case."

Ahmadinejad's main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi alleged massive irregularities in the June 12 vote, triggering widespread protests in which about 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and several thousand arrested.

Iran has put on trial 110 protesters, including top reformists, the two Frenchwomen and a local employee of the British embassy for participating in the unrest.

Tehran has hit back at Western criticism of the mass trials, saying it would strongly resist such "foreign intervention" in its domestic affairs.

The EU presidency joined Britain and France in urging Iran to release Reiss, Afshar and the British embassy worker, calling their trial an act against the whole European Union.

France has also objected to the fact that Iran had failed to inform the French embassy in advance that either woman would be appearing in court, which it said flaunted international rules and consular protection.

 

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