Monday, November 29, 1999

French woman flying home after Iran trial - France

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French teacher Clotilde Reiss is being flown back to France on Sunday after the end of her trial in Iran on spying charges, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said.In Tehran on Saturday, Reiss's lawyer Mohammad Ali Mahdavi-Sabet said she would be allowed to leave Iran after her jail sentence was commuted to a fine of $285,000. Reiss was arrested last July.The president's office said in a statement that Reiss was due to arrive in Paris at about 1 p.m. (1100 GMT) and would be welcomed home by Sarkozy.Reiss, who had been out of jail on bail and staying at the French embassy, was accused of taking part in a Western plot to destabilise the Iranian government after the June 12 vote in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected.Her case raised tensions between France and Iran, already at odds over Tehran's nuclear programme.No immediate comment was available from Iranian officials on the end of Reiss's trial.Reiss was arrested in Tehran in July when preparing to leave the Islamic Republic after working at the University of Isfahan for five months.She was among thousands of people detained over widespread post-election unrest.Most have since been freed, though dozens, including former senior officials, have been sentenced to up to 16 years and two people were hanged in January. At least nine others are appealing against death sentences.Defeated moderate candidates say the election was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny this.The United States and its European allies fear Tehran is trying to acquire nuclear weapons under cover of a power programme and are negotiating a fourth set of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.Tehran says its nuclear work is solely for the generation of electricity.(Editing by Ralph Gowling)

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