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French lecturer in the dock as protestors' trial resumes

Video by FRANCE 24


Latest update : 2009-08-09

Detained French lecturer Clotilde Reiss is in the dock Saturday along with prominent Iranian reformists and journalists at the second hearing in the trial of the protesters who opposed Ahmadinejad's re-election, according to the IRNA news agency.

AFP - A French lecturer and an Iranian employee of the French embassy were in the dock on Saturday alongside others detained during protests over the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a Tehran court resumed their trial.

Clotilde Reiss, who turned 24 in prison on July 31, was arrested on July 1 as she tried to fly out of Iran after a study trip.

Flanked by a policewoman on Saturday, she wore blue jeans, a dark coat and a colourful headscarf.

"She is accused of collecting information and provoking rioters," the official IRNA news agency reported. It named the embassy employee only as Afshar. She was detained on Thursday.

A diplomatic source said it was "surprising to know Reiss was in the court."

"We came to know only this morning from television. We were not informed previously," he added.

Reiss was initially accused of spying because she had taken a photograph of an opposition demonstration in the central city of Isfahan and emailed it to a French friend in Tehran.

France's ambassador to Tehran, Bernard Poletti, has been allowed to see Reiss in the capital's notorious Evin prison just once since her arrest, but he has been allowed to talk to her twice on telephone.

On July 28, the French foreign minister said that in her latest phone call Reiss told Poletti that "her morale and courage were holding up even if she remains worried about her future."

"We are continuing to demand that we be allowed to exercise our right to visit our countrywoman," ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said at the time.

Reiss, a Farsi speaker, was introduced to the country's culture at a young age by an Iranian nanny.

More than 10 other defendants detained during the wave of protests that followed Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed June 12 re-election were in the dock with Reiss.

It was the second hearing in their trial. A number of key reformist politicians and journalists are among them, the ISNA news agency said.

Their new hearing had been due on Thursday but was changed to Saturday after some defence lawyers asked for more time to study the charges.

Some 100 defendants were in the dock for the first hearing on August 1. They were charged with various offences, including rioting.

At that hearing, several accused withdrew earlier allegations of fraud in the presidential election, saying that Ahmadinejad's victory was clean.

Another 10 protesters were put in the dock in a separate trial on Sunday.

Both Ahmadinejad's main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi and reformist former president Mohammad Khatami have denounced the trials.

Ahmadinejad was sworn in on Wednesday for a second four-year term.

Prosecutor Abdolreza Mohabati said those in the dock on Saturday were accused of "designing a plan on behalf of the opposition and foreign countries to topple the regime by stealth."

Officials have accused opposition leaders and their supporters of plotting a "velvet revolution."

Mohabati also charged British and US authorities of being involved in the opposition movement, the Fars news agency said.

"Some British diplomats took part in illegal Tehran gatherings," he said as he read the indictments in court on Saturday.

"The political section of the British embassy was collecting information about officials, the Revolutionary Guards, Basij militia... it formed a working group to monitor news and the local staffers and diplomats made provincial trips. The embassy also sent local staffers to scenes of unrest."

The authorities arrested nine British embassy staff amid the protests, although all were later released.

Mohabati also blamed Washington for running an "exchange programme where membrs of the Iranian elite were sent to the United States for higher education."

"The programme aimed at changing views in Iranian society... infiltrate the social layers, weaken Iran's government to eventually topple the regime," he charged.

He also accused Voice of America radio and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook of playing a role in spreading the unrest.

Date created : 2009-08-08