UK, French workers face Iran trial

Britain calls Tehran action an outrage; France wants its citizen released

UK, French workers face Iran trial

Britain said the trial of its embassy employee was an “outrage”.

“We deplore these trials and the so-called confessions of prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The French woman and embassy employee were among the dozens charged on Saturday with challenging religious rule in the second mass trial aimed at uprooting the moderate opposition and ending protests that erupted after the June 12 election. French citizen Clotilde Reiss was charged with “acting against national security by taking part in unrest... collecting news and information and sending pictures of the unrest abroad”, state news agency IRNA said.

Espionage and acting against national security are punishable by death under Iran’s Islamic law. Reiss confessed her “mistakes” and asked for clemency, IRNA said.
The British embassy employee, Hossein Rassam, was charged with espionage and confessed to handing information about the unrest to Washington, IRNA said.
“He apologised to the Iranian nation and asked the court for forgiveness,” it said.

Police crackdown
Meanwhile, the riot police used force to break up protests by relatives outside the courtroom.

“Relatives of the defendants and a large group of people gathered in front of the court building on Saturday. When they chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest), the riot police attacked them to disperse the crowd,” the reformist Mosharekat website said.
At least 26 people have been killed and hundreds arrested in the post-election violence.
Reiss has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison since she was arrested at a Tehran airport on July 1 on charges of espionage as she tried to leave Iran after spending five months in the central city of Isfahan.

France has rejected the charge against Reiss as “baseless” and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for her immediate release. The French Foreign Ministry said on Saturday it had no comment on Reiss for now.

At a mass trial on Saturday last, more than 100 reformists, including several prominent figures, were charged with offences that included acting against national security by fomenting post-election unrest.

Pro-reform politicians have denounced the court cases as “show trials”, saying the confessions were made under duress. Iran accuses the West, particularly the United States and Britain, of fomenting trouble after the June election in an attempt to topple the clerical establishment. They deny the charge.  The latest indictment accused Washington and London of “providing financial help to Iran’s opposition” to fuel domestic turmoil.

“Defendant Reza Rafi’i Foroushani had contacts with American intelligence agents in Dubai... Some European ambassadors and diplomats also attended illegal (pro-Mousavi) rallies,” it said.

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