France had been ready to shelter Iranian protestors

10th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

French embassy in Tehran had been ready to give refuge to Iranian post-election protestors fleeing police, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.

"What was said on Saturday was true, if protestors who were being chased had sought refuge in the French embassy the instruction was to open the door," Kouchner was quoted as saying in the Le Parisien/Aujourd'hui en France newspapers.

"This is a European order. This is in our democratic tradition," he added.

An employee from the French embassy's cultural section, Nazak Afshar, was in court on Saturday in the second mass trial of people charged in connection with demonstrations against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president.
According to Iran's official IRNA news agency, Afshar told the court that they were instructed to shelter post-election protesters in case of a clash with police in front of the embassy.

Commenting on the case of Clotilde Reiss, a 24-year-old French academic who, according to IRNA, admitted at the trial on Saturday that she reported on demonstrations to the French embassy, Kouchner said the charges against her are "completely without basis".

"These 'confessions' were probably elicited under pressure," said Kouchner.

European nations have called on Iranian authorities to release Afshar, Reiss and British embassy staffer Hossein Rassam, who also appeared at the Saturday trial.

Ahmadinejad's main challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi suggested that there were massive irregularities in the 12 June vote, triggering widespread protests in which about 30 people were killed, hundreds wounded and several thousand arrested.

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