Wednesday, July 08, 2009

In UK row, EU warns Iran of 'further action'

From Press TV, Wed 08 July 2009:
In UK row, EU warns Iran of 'further action'
The European Union has threatened to take "further action" against Tehran if Iranian authorities refuse to release the last detained British Embassy staffer.

Ambassadors from three EU member states on Tuesday called for the "immediate release" of a British Embassy employee, who was arrested in Tehran following the disputed June 12 presidential election, a Swedish EU presidency statement said.

Sweden took over the rotating six-month presidency of the 27-member European Union from the Czech Republic on July 1.

Iran has released eight British embassy employees who were detained on charges of instigating the post-vote unrest in Iran.

This leaves Hossein Rassam -- who works as a political analyst at the UK mission in Tehran -- as the only staffer currently held in Iranian custody.

ran became the scene of opposition rallies after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was announced as the official winner of the 10th presidential election with nearly two-thirds of the vote.

Iran blames foreign powers, namely Britain, for interfering in its internal affairs and for playing a significant role in fueling the post-vote unrest, which claimed the lives of at least 20 people.

A lawyer for Rassam said on Sunday that his client was charged with breaching national security.

Several members of the European Union have sharply criticized the Iranian government's response to the rallies and have expressed strong opposition to the arrests of the nine local members of the British Embassy staff.

The EU troika also "condemned" the recent arrest of a French academic detained in Iran on charges of espionage.

"All EU member states stood behind the French request for an immediate release" of the teacher, the statement said.

On Tuesday, President Nicholas Sarkozy also demanded the immediate release of the French woman.

According to the French Foreign Ministry, Clotilde Reiss, 23, was arrested last week as she was about to leave Iran after spending five months studying at Isfahan University.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Monday claimed that Reiss' charges were related to pictures of Iran's post-election protests she had taken with her camera and sent by private email to her friend in Tehran. SF/MD/AA


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