European politicians concerned over Iran human rights

28th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

EU foreign policy chief demands the release of a French teacher detained in Iran for spying on political election protests in June.

Brussels - Senior European politicians Monday raised concerns about human rights in Iran. They repeated demands for the release of a French woman lecturer jailed on spying charges.

"We are very worried about the human rights situation in Iran and the treatment of prisoners," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, as he arrived for a Brussels meeting of European foreign ministers.

Iran's streets erupted in protest following June's re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which was hotly disputed by his opponents.

Clotilde Reiss, a French teacher at the technical university in the city of Isfahan, has been detained for almost a month in Tehran's notorious Evin prison accused of taking part in the unrest.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 people were arrested during the Iran protests and hundreds are still detained, according to official reports in the country.

At least 20 people were killed and scores wounded during the unrest, according to the official media.

Also speaking ahead of Monday's meeting, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner urged the release of Reiss.

"She must be freed in the next few days," he said.

He added a French official had talked to her by telephone but criticised the refusal of Iran to allow her visitors in prison, adding authorities had promised this.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the EU presidency, insisted pressure would be kept up on Iran.

He said: "We are working on it and we have made our point of view known to the Iranian authorities."

Bildt said the foreign ministers would discuss "extra measures" which could be taken against Iran.

Reiss, a recent masters graduate who had been teaching in Isfahan for the past five months, was detained at Tehran airport on 1 July on her way to Beirut.

Iranian officials accuse her of taking part in election protests in Isfahan and sending an email to a friend in Tehran that contained information on the rallies, say French officials.

Solana further said the current political turmoil in Iran meant it was unlikely talks would start up again soon on the country's controversial nuclear programme.

The six countries involved in the talks (five from the UN Security Council and Germany) asked on 8 April to reopen negotiations with Iran, which stalled in September.

But Solana said: "I don't think at this time there is going to be a reply to the offer made late April.

"I don't expect a response rapidly; I don't see it until the situation settles."

Washington and other western powers suspect Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons, but Tehran insists it is building a civilian nuclear programme.

AFP / Expatica

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