French academic leaves Iran after almost a year

Clotilde Reiss arrested following last year's disputed presidential elections.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 16, 2010 15:46
1 minute read.
Clotilde Reiss.

Clotilde Reiss. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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A young French academic arrested in Iran following last year's disputed presidential elections has left the country and is on a plane returning home, France's presidential palace said Sunday.

Clotilde Reiss, 25, was convicted of provoking unrest and spying in the aftermath of Iran's June election, but the 10-year jail term was commuted to a fine of 3 billion rials ($300,000). Her lawyer said he paid the fine Saturday.

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The French government insisted on Reiss' innocence and pressed frequently for her release.

Reiss boarded a French government plane in Dubai and is en route to France, a statement from the president's office said. On her return later Sunday she and her family are to meet President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace.

Reiss was arrested in July and released on bail after a month and a half in custody, but only on condition that she remain at the French Embassy in Teheran until her trial was over.

She was among more than 100 politicians, journalists and activists accused of trying to engineer a "velvet revolution" to overthrow the Islamic leadership. She pleaded innocent.

The verdict came Saturday, about a week after Majid Kakavand, an Iranian detained in France on accusations he evaded export controls to purchase US technology over the Internet to sell to Iran's military, was allowed to leave France and return home.

The United States had been seeking Kakavand's extradition, but a French court rejected the request.



Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramon Mehmanparast, was quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency as saying there was no link between the cases of Kakavand and Reiss, despite widespread speculation.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner also told Radio J that Reiss' release had "nothing to do with" the ruling on Kakavand, nor with a French court's upcoming decision on whether to free Ali Vakili Rad, who was convicted of assassinating former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar at his home outside Paris in 1991.

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