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Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-15

Clotilde Reiss will be allowed to leave Iran after paying a fine of 230,000 euros, her lawyer said. The French academic was arrested for espionage when Iran's post-election unrest threw the country into political turmoil last June.

AFP - A French researcher arrested in Iran in July for allegedly participating in demonstrations against the disputed presidential election, will be allowed to leave the country soon after a large fine was paid, her lawyer told AFP on Saturday.

Referring to Clotilde Reiss, lawyer Mohammad Ali Mahdavi Sabet said a court had issued a ruling that "allows her to leave Iran. There has been a court verdict which is not an acquittal but will enable her to leave the country."

Mahdavi Sabet said she has been sentenced to "pay a fine of 285,000 dollars (230,000 euros)," for her crimes, adding that he had paid the money on Saturday.

"I will go to the court to get her passport. The story is over."

In Paris, French foreign ministry spokesman Benard Valero said "we have taken note of the legal authorities' decision concerning Clotilde Reiss and we are therefore expecting her return without delay."

He declined to comment further on the decision or how Reiss would be returned to France.

Iranian authorities arrested Reiss, 24, on July 1 during post-election unrest and put her on trial in August charged with acting against national security.

She was arrested before flying home after completing a six-month teaching and research assignment in the city of Isfahan.

In the closing weeks of her stay she witnessed street protests against the June re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which the opposition labelled as fraudulent. She took photographs and emailed them to friends.

Several thousand people were arrested for during the protests. Most were later freed but several hundred, including dozens of reformist officials, journalists and human rights activists, are still in prison.

Since August, after spending six weeks in the capital's Evin prison, Reiss was released on bail and confined to the French embassy to await judgment.

France has maintained that she is innocent and had repeatedly asked for her immediate release.

A verdict had been expected in January, after Reiss had made four court appearances, but it was put off.

News of her imminent departure comes a week after a Paris court refused to extradite an Iranian to the United States where he is accused of buying electronic parts and exporting them illegally.

Engineer Majid Kakavand, who had been arrested in March 2009 at the request of the United States, flew home to Iran last Friday.

The Islamic republic hailed the French court's decision as "a positive point in Franco-Iranian relations."

US officials accused Kakavand of buying electronic components and measuring instruments through a Malaysian company and exporting them to the Iran via Malaysia between 2006 and 2008.

The decision to release Kakavand capped more than a year of legal wrangling in a case that had diplomatic implications as France pressed for the release of Reiss held in Tehran.

In December President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told AFP in an interview that he was ready to release Reiss but that the decision would "depend on the French authorities." He did not elaborate more.

However, later in the month, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iran wants France to free convicted assassin Ali Vakili Rad in exchange for the Reiss.

"Again, very recently, the Iranian ambassador came to see us and repeated the wish of the Iranians to see an exchange. The (French) president has been very clear, there's no question of an exchange," Kouchner told lawmakers.

Vakili Rad, convicted of the 1991 murder of the deposed shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, is in France awaiting a decision on a parole request. The court hearing is set on May 18.

Date created : 2010-05-15


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