Iran says French academic's release not swap for engineer

16th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iran on Sunday confirmed the release of French academic Clotilde Reiss but insisted she was not freed as part of a swap with Paris for the return of an Iranian engineer wanted by Washington.

Reiss, who had been arrested and held in Iran since last July, left Tehran early Sunday for Paris a week after France rejected a US call for the extradition of Majid Kakavand and allowed him to return home.

"Ms Reiss's release has nothing to do with Mr Kakavand's release," Fars news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying.

"The judiciary examined her case and she was allowed to leave according to the verdict," he added.

Reiss had been arrested for allegedly participating in demonstrations last year against the disputed election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A statement from the French president's office said she left Tehran early Sunday for Dubai where she boarded a French government plane for Paris.

"The President of the Republic will receive her and her family at the Elysee Palace as soon as she arrives in Paris," at around 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), said the statement.

"Clotilde Reiss has boarded a French government plane at Dubai airport and is currently en route towards France," the statement added.

Engineer Kakavand returned to Tehran on May 8 after a Paris court refused to extradite him to the United States where he is accused of buying electronic parts and exporting them illegally.

Kakavand had been arrested by French authorities in March 2009 at the request of the United States.

The Islamic republic hailed the French court's decision to release him and snub Washington's extradition call as "a positive point in Franco-Iranian relations."

Reiss's lawyer, Mohammad Ali Mahdavi Sabet, said on Saturday that a court had issued a ruling allowing her to leave Iran, adding that he had paid on her behalf a fine of 285,000 dollars (230,000 euros), for her crimes.

Reiss, 24, was arrested on July 1 during post-election unrest, after completing a six-month teaching and research assignment in Iran, and put on trial in August charged with acting against national security.

© 2010 AFP

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