Iran General NewsFrench academic's lawyer upbeat on Iran verdict

French academic’s lawyer upbeat on Iran verdict

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ImageAFP: French academic Clotilde Reiss's lawyer expressed confidence she would be acquitted after she appeared in court in Tehran on Saturday on charges of acting against Iranian national security during anti-government protests in June. By Farhad Pouladi

ImageTEHRAN (AFP) — French academic Clotilde Reiss's lawyer expressed confidence she would be acquitted after she appeared in court in Tehran on Saturday on charges of acting against Iranian national security during anti-government protests in June.

Lawyer Mohammad Ali Mahdavi Sabet told AFP that the two-hour hearing was the final one in the long-running case, which has tested Iran's ties with France, and that he now expected the court to announce its verdict within seven days.

Reiss, who has been staying at the French embassy in Tehran since being released on bail in August, was in court for the hearing, the third in her trial, Mahdavi Sabet said.

"She and I made our last defence submissions," he said.

"In my closing statement for the defence, I rejected all the accusations against her and said that she has not committed any crime.

"I asked for her acquittal and I am very confident and optimistic about her acquittal," he said.

"This was her last court session. After that Ms Reiss left for the embassy.

"They will tell me the verdict when it is ready. Under Iranian law, the court has a week to issue its verdict," Mahdavi Sabet added.

A French diplomatic source in Paris said the ambassador and first counsellor from the Tehran embassy attended the hearing.

"We are now waiting calmly for the verdict," the source said, adding that Reiss "went back to the French embassy at the end of the hearing."

The 24-year-old academic was arrested on July 1 shortly before she was due to fly home after a six-month study and teaching visit to the Iranian city of Isfahan.

She was accused of taking photos and emailing material on the protests that erupted after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, and handing them to a diplomat at the French embassy.

France has strongly protested her innocence on all charges.

On Tuesday France served notice that it expects Reiss to be acquitted.

"We expect that her innocence will be recognized by Iranian justice and we want Clotilde Reiss to return to France as soon as possible," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

The arrest of Reiss has stoked tensions between France and Iran, which already are at odds over Tehran's nuclear programme and Paris's harsh criticism of the regime's crackdown on opposition protesters.

Reiss was one of scores of people paraded before cameras at a televised trial, before being remanded in custody in Tehran's notorious Evin jail.

Iran's opposition, which charges the election was massively rigged to keep hardliner Ahmadinejad in power, has dismissed the court proceedings as "show trials."

Paris has accused Tehran of trying to blackmail it into releasing an Iranian agent, Ali Valiki Rad, who is serving a life sentence in France for the 1991 murder of an exiled former prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar.

Tehran has never confirmed making such a proposal.

In addition, Iranian engineer Majid Kakavand, 37, arrested in Paris in March 2009 and accused of breaking the US trade embargo on Iran, is awaiting a court decision next month on a US application to extradite him.

The engineer has been mentioned in the case of Reiss, although the Iranian ambassador in Paris has denied wanting to swap the pair.

Iran arrested thousands of people during and after the opposition protests and has put several hundred of them on trial on charges of either inciting or taking part in the demonstrations.

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