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Iran Tells France To Stop Pressure Over Lecturer

Clotilde Reiss defends herself during a hearing at a court in Tehran in August.
TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran has told France to cease "political pressure" in the case of a French teaching assistant who was arrested on spying charges following the Islamic state's disputed June presidential vote.

Clotilde Reiss, who is out of jail on bail, has been accused of taking part in a Western plot to destabilize the Iranian government after the June 12 election in which hard-line President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was reelected.

France has dismissed her charges as baseless and Reiss, arrested on July 1, has been staying in the French Embassy in Tehran since her trial on August 16.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on November 10 demanded that Iran provide formal guarantees over not jailing Reiss again while she awaits a verdict, France Inter radio reported.

Iran's Foreign Ministry rejected the demand.

"The charges against Reiss are documented and therefore there can be no acquittal on grounds of political pressure," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mihmanparast said, according to a report carried by student news agency ISNA.

"Nobody is allowed to tell the judge of Reiss's case what to do."

Reiss, 24, was arrested when she prepared to return home after five months spent working at the University of Isfahan.

Tehran's chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on November 9 that Reiss's trial would resume but did not give a date, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Kouchner said Reiss would not attend the court without getting "certain" guarantees, adding that "she must be able to leave the courthouse in Tehran and return to the embassy."

The turmoil after the vote was the worst in Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Authorities deny vote-rigging and portrayed the unrest as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic state.

Human rights groups say thousands of people were detained after the vote. More than 100 people, including former senior officials, remain in jail.

France and other Western states have a tense relationship with Ahmadinejad over Iran's nuclear research, which Iran says is for civilian use but which the West believes is intended for military purposes.