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EU slams Tehran trial as an act against entire 27-nation bloc

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-09

France, Britain, and the EU presidency slammed Iran for putting on trial French lecturer Clotilde Reiss and Iranians staffers at the French and British embassies over the post-election unrest, calling it an act against the entire 27-nation bloc.

AFP - Britain and the EU presidency condemned Iran Saturday for putting on trial a French lecturer and Iranian workers at the British and French embassies over unrest following the disputed election.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the trial in Tehran was the "latest Iranian provocation", while Sweden, which currently holds the European Union presidency, said it was an act against the entire 27-nation bloc.

France called on Iran to release the French woman, 24-year-old lecturer Clotilde Reiss, and Franco-Iranian Nazak Afshar, who works for the cultural section of the French embassy in Tehran.

Miliband said he was "deeply concerned by the unjustified charges" laid against Hossein Rassam, who is the British embassy's chief political analyst.

"Hossein is a member of our embassy staff going about his legitimate duties. Iranian action against him, and those against Clotilde Reiss and a member of the staff of the French embassy in Tehran only brings further discredit on the Iranian regime," he said.

Iranian news agencies reported that Rassam was accused of spying.

He was one of nine locally employed staff at the British embassy arrested soon after the election. Eight were freed, while he was released on bail.

Rassam, Afshar and Reiss appeared in a group trial with opposition supporters who challenged the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 12 which triggered massive street protests.

Iranian state television said Reiss and Afshar had fuelled the unrest by supplying information to foreign embassies.

Miliband said Europe was united in opposition to the trial.

He said he had spoken to his counterparts in France and Sweden, and "we have reaffirmed our solidarity in the face of this latest Iranian provocation."

The Swedish EU presidency said in a statement: "Actions against one EU country, citizen or embassy staff is considered an action against all of the EU, and will be treated accordingly.

"The EU will closely follow the trial and demand that the persons will be released promptly."

France called for Reiss to be freed, its foreign ministry saying the charges against her were "devoid of any foundation" and the accusations against Nazak Afshar were "non-existent" and she should also be released immediately.

France 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.

Iran has strongly accused Britain of stoking the post-election demonstrations of supporters of defeated opposition challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi. Britain vehemently denies the claims.
 

Date created : 2009-08-09

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