Iran General NewsIran refuses to free westerners, France says

Iran refuses to free westerners, France says

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AFP: Iran has refused to grant conditional freedom to a French and a German citizen who were jailed for 18 months in January for entering waters claimed by Iran, the French foreign ministry said Friday. PARIS, Oct 13, 2006 (AFP) – Iran has refused to grant conditional freedom to a French and a German citizen who were jailed for 18 months in January for entering waters claimed by Iran, the French foreign ministry said Friday.

Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said France “regretted” that the appeals court at Hormozgan had turned down the request from Stephane Lhebier of France who, with German Donald Klein, was arrested when they strayed into waters claimed by Iran around the Gulf island of Abu Musa.

The area is also claimed by the United Arab Emirates, and Lherbier, who set up a fishing business in the UAE, was using an Emirates map.

Mattei said the penalty was “excessively heavy” in relation to the facts, and added that France would continue to press for the men’s release.

“We remain very much on the alert” over the Lherbier case, “and are awaiting a response from the Iranian authorities,” Mattei said.

President Jacques Chirac brought up the issue last month during a meeting with an Iranian anvoy over the country’s nuclear ambitions.

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