French lecturer wrote on Iran protests for embassy

9th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

A French lecturer told a Tehran court on Saturday that she reported for the French embassy about post-election protests in Iran but insisted her actions were innocent

Tehran - A French lecturer told a Tehran court on Saturday that she reported for the French embassy about post-election protests in Iran but insisted her actions were innocent, news agencies said.

Clotilde Reiss, who turned 24 in Tehran's notorious Evin prison on 31 July, also revealed she has written about Iran's nuclear power programme but said it was part of an internship and there was nothing secret about it, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The court also heard from Nazak Afshar, an Iranian employee at the French embassy, who said she and other staffers had been told to offer shelter to protesters if required, according to IRNA.

Reiss and Afshar were unexpectedly among more than 10 other defendants brought before the court for a mass hearing on charges related to huge protests that erupted across Iran after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared to have been re-elected in the 12 June election.

IRNA cited Reiss as telling the judge she reported on post-election protests in the central city of Isfahan for the French embassy. "I wrote a one-page report and submitted it to... the cultural department of the French embassy," she said.

"I was teaching at Isfahan Technical University until June 10. Due to the riots the university was later closed.

"I was planning to leave Iran, but I took part in rallies of 15 and 17 June in Tehran and took photographs and film. I did this out of curiosity and to be aware of the political situation. I wanted to know of what was happening," she said.

"My motive to take part in the gatherings was a personal one. But I accept that it was a mistake and I should not have gone to these gatherings," Reiss added according to IRNA.

ISNA news agency quoted Reiss as saying she sent e-mails about the demonstrations to about 50 friends or members of her family.

"My father works for the French Atomic Energy Commission. I did an internship there and for that I wrote a report on policy in Iran on nuclear energy," she said, according to ISNA's report.

"I based it on articles and information I found on the internet. There was nothing secret."

IRNA said Reiss is "is accused of collecting information and provoking rioters."

She and Afshar, from the embassy's cultural section, who was detained on Thursday, both played an "active role in the unrest by giving information to foreign embassies," Iranian state television said.

Reiss, who was arrested on 1 July as she tried to fly home, told the judge: "I ask Iran, its people and the court to forgive me. I hope I will be pardoned," ISNA said.

IRNA cited Afshar as telling the court: "In the event that confrontations occurred in front of the cultural department of the embassy, we were told to offer refuge to protesters if they asked."

In France, Reiss's father Remi was taken unawares by her appearance in court. "I had not been told. I was surprised to see her appear at this trial," he said, adding that he believes she is innocent.

He would not comment on whether he worked for the French Atomic Energy Commission.

It was the second hearing in the trial of a number of key reformist politicians and journalists, the ISNA news agency said.

Some 100 defendants were charged with various offences, including rioting, at the first hearing on August 1. Reiss and the two embassy staffers were not present in court then.

Both Ahmadinejad's main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi and reformist former president Mohammad Khatami have denounced the trials.

AFP / Expatica

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