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France

Clotilde Reiss awaits verdict at French embassy

Video by Rebecca BOWRING

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-08-18

Clotilde Reiss, the French lecturer accused of spying after last month's Iranian presidential election, will await her verdict in the French embassy in Tehran after Paris paid around 200,000 euros in bail to secure her release.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday that Paris had paid around 200,000 euros in bail to secure the release of French academic Clotilde Reiss, who spent six weeks in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

 

The 24-year-old was freed on Sunday and spent the night in the French embassy in Tehran. A statement from the French presidency added that Reiss was in good health and good spirits.   

Her father Rémi Reiss spoke of his daughter on FRANCE 24, saying, “I’ve spoken to her on the phone and she’s in good shape. Her liberation is a huge relief. It’s the first step and I’m very confident about what is to come.”

He said he still does not know when his daughter will be permitted to return to France.

Immediately following her release Reiss spoke with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who expressed his joy and assured her she had the full support of the French people. She will remain at the embassy for the time being.  
 
The Frenchwoman’s trial hearings ended last Wednesday. Iranian authorities, however, said Reiss has to stay in Iran even if she is allowed out on bail.  
 
The French government provided the bail for her conditional release and said that she could stay at the French embassy in Tehran until the verdict.

 

"Of course we hope to be reimbursed, because she is innocent and that will be recognised", Kouchner said on cable news channel LCI after confirming Paris had paid around 200,000 euros in bail.



Reiss was among the 110 defendants, including British and French embassy staff, tried last week on charges related to huge protests across Iran that broke out after June’s disputed presidential vote in which hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won another term.
 
Iranian authorities accuse Reiss of espionage and assisting a Western plot to destabilise the government of the Islamic republic. The spy charges against her rest on allegations she e-mailed photos to a friend after attending protests in Isfahan.
 
Reiss had been working in Iran for five months at a university in the central Iranian city of Isfahan and was arrested on July 1 as she attempted to fly out of Iran after completing her study trip.
 
During her trial, Reiss threw herself on the mercy of the court, admitting to having made “mistakes” and asking for “the forgiveness of the country, the people, and the Iranian court.”

Syrian intervention

In Sunday’s statement the French presidency “thanked the Union European and other allies like Syria for their support.”

To secure Reiss’ release France called for diplomatic favours from Iran’s neighbours, especially Syria, a key ally of Tehran.
 
Damascus seems to have played an important role in Reiss’ conditional liberation. It’s not the first time France has benefitted from its new friendship with Syria, sanctioned by the presence of President Bashar al-Assad at the Bastille Day parade in 2008.

Syria also played a hand in last Tuesday’s release of Nazak Afshar, a Franco-Iranian employee in the French embassy in Tehran, who had also been imprisoned for participating in the post-election protests.

Pierre Célerier, AFP correspondent in Tehran, told FRANCE 24 that Assad intends to visit Tehran this week. This occasion, he said, could be used to announce the definitive liberation of Reiss, and permission for her to return to France.
 
Reiss’ release on bail comes days after French embassy employee Nazak Afshar, a French-Iranian national, was freed from prison, although she will still face prosecution. Afshar was also asked to pay bail for her conditional release.
 
The French government has strongly condemned the trial as a travesty of justice.
 
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has been vocal about his outrage regarding the affair, telling the media that the accusations were “highly delusional” and that the two women were “guilty of absolutely nothing”.

Date created : 2009-08-17

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