Court in Iran refuses to release French student Clotilde Reiss

A Tehran court has ordered that a teacher from Lille must remain under house arrest at the French Embassy after hopes for her release were set back by Franco-Iranian tensions over a prisoner swap.

After a three-hour hearing, Clotilde Reiss was told that she would be summoned again before the conclusion of her trial on charges of spying and provoking unrest. President Ahmadinejad raised the prospect last week that Ms Reiss, who was arrested after the anti-government demonstrations in June, could be nearing the end of her ordeal as a pawn between Tehran and Paris. In Copenhagen on Friday President Ahmadinejad said that Tehran was eager to resolve the case, and that this would happen if French leaders “correct a little their behaviour”.

French officials said this was a reference to Ali Vakili Rad, an Iranian serving a life sentence in France for the 1991 murder in Paris of the Shah’s former Prime Minister, Shapour Bakhtiar. At his trial, Rad said that he had been acting on orders from Tehran when he stabbed Bakhtiar more than 20 times.

Ms Reiss, 24, was initially held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, then released on bail in August. She has since been restricted to the embassy and denied permission to leave Iran.

Tehran has demanded that France release Iranians serving prison terms in France in exchange for her. President Sarkozy publicly refused, and then hardened his hostility to Iran’s nuclear programme. Nevertheless, Irani… >>>

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