Monday, November 29, 1999

Lawyer says Iran clears French woman of spying

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A French teacher arrested on spying charges after Iran's election in June last year will be allowed to leave the country after her jail sentence was commuted to a $285,000, her lawyer said on Saturday."The case of Clotilde Reiss is finished ... I have paid a fine of $285,000 this morning. I will get her passport tomorrow and she will be allowed to leave immediately after," Mohammad Ali Mahdavi-Sabet told Reuters.Reiss, who has 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.Judiciary officials were not available for comment. The lawyer said earlier that Reiss had been sentenced to "two five-year parallel (jail) sentences for various charges".Her case has raised tensions between France and Iran, already at odds over Tehran's nuclear programme."We have taken note of the legal decision regarding Clotilde Reiss and we await her return without delay," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said on Saturday.Reiss was arrested in Tehran in July when preparing to leave the Islamic state after working at the University of Isfahan for five months.She was among thousands of people detained over widespread post-vote 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 death sentences."The death sentences of six people who were arrested in post- vote protests have been confirmed," said Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "But they have asked to be pardoned."Defeated moderate candidates say the election was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad's re-election. The authorities deny this.IRANIAN PRISONERSThe Reiss case has been running at the same time as that of Iranian engineer Majid Kakavand, who was arrested in March 2009 at a Paris airport and served five months in detention in a French jail after his arrest.He was later freed on bail and a U.S. request for his extradition was rejected by a French court on May 5 after authorities concluded he had not broken French law.Washington had issued a warrant accusing him of illegally buying electronic equipment for military use in violation of a trade embargo on Iran over its disputed nuclear activities.In the Reiss case, Ahmadinejad had called on France last September to consider a prisoner swap if Paris wanted to secure her release, without naming Iranian prisoners he wanted to see freed. France dismissed the suggestion as "blackmail".An Iranian national, Vakili Rad, is serving a life sentence for the 1991 murder in France of Shapour Bakhtiar -- Iran's last prime minister under the Shah.He was due for parole in July 2009 and his lawyer petitioned for his release. A French judge is due to rule on the parole request on May 18.The United States and its European allies fear Iran 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 aimed at generating electricity.(Additional reporting by Hashem Kalantari and Hossein Jaseb in Tehran, Crispian Balmer in Paris; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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