TEHRAN, (Reuters) – The lawyer of a French teaching assistant who was arrested on spying charges after Iran’s disputed June election said he was hopeful she would be acquitted after a court held its last trial session on Saturday.
“In this session my client and I provided our last defence and we are hopeful that the court would issue, in coming days, a verdict based on exonerating my client,” ISNA news agency quoted Clotilde Reiss’s lawyer Mohammad Ali Mahdavi-Sabet as saying.
Reiss, who has been out of jail on bail and staying at the French embassy, was accused of taking part in a Western plot to destabilise the Iranian government after the June 12 vote in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected. Her case has raised tensions between France and Iran, already at odds over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy says Reiss, 24, is innocent. She was arrested in Tehran in July, during the turmoil that followed the election, as she prepared to leave Iran after a five-month stint working at the University of Isfahan. She was among thousands of people detained over widespread post-election unrest. Most of them have been freed, but more than 80 people have been jailed for up to 15 years. Five people have been sentenced to death.
The pro-reform opposition says the election was rigged to secure Ahmadinejad’s re-election. The authorities deny this, portraying the huge opposition protests that followed the vote as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic state.
In the most serious violence since the aftermath of the election, eight people were killed in clashes between security forces and opposition supporters on Ashura, the day of ritual Shi’ite mourning that fell on Dec. 27.
ISNA said five people detained in connection with the Ashura day protests will go on trial on Monday accused of “moharebeh” — an Islamic term meaning waging war against God – — which carries the death sentence.
ISNA said the accused had confessed, but it did not identify them.
Last week, the official IRNA news agency said five detainees that Iran planned to put on trial in connection with the Ashura protests were members of the armed People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran (PMOI). The PMOI is an exile group opposed to the Islamic system of government.
The opposition website Rahesabz said earlier this month that more than 180 people, including 17 journalists, 10 Mousavi aides and some members of the outlawed Baha’i faith, were arrested after last month’s demonstrations.
Hardline clerics and authorities have called on the judiciary to punish opposition leaders for creating tension in Iran, saying they were “mohareb” (enemies of God).