French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran's leader of "blackmail" Wednesday for suggesting a prisoner exchange might allow a young French academic to return home after she was arrested in Iranian postelection protests.
Sarkozy said he refuses to consider such a suggestion from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"It's blackmail," he said in an interview with France-2 television and TF1. The academic, Clotilde Reiss, "is innocent. She must be freed."
Reiss, 24, was turned over to the French Embassy on Aug. 16 and is awaiting a verdict on spy charges.
Ahmadinejad had been asked about Reiss a day earlier in an interview with French television. Without directly proposing an exchange offer he hinted at one, saying "there are several Iranians who have been in prison in France for several years" who "also have families."