Iran has begun a second mass trial of political detainees, charging
they provoked unrest during demonstrations against the handling of the
country's disputed presidential election.
Those put on trial Saturday included a French woman teacher and an Iranian employee of the British embassy.
Images published by Iranian state news agencies show 24-year-old French lecturerClotilde
Reiss seated in the front row of the Tehran courtroom. She is charged
with espionage for gathering information about the protests, taking
pictures and sending them abroad. IRNA news agency says she confessed
The British embassy employee, Hossein Rassam, faces similar charges. He
also is said to have confessed that he reported news about the unrest
A French embassy employee is also on trial.
Moderates and pro-reformists in Iran have condemned the legal
proceedings as "show trials." Human-rights groups say any confessions
were produced by harsh interrogation techniques.
The European Union's Swedish presidency expressed concerns about the
trials, saying actions against one EU citizen, country or embassy
worker is an action against the whole European Union.
The charges against foreigners and embassy workers reflects Iran's
attempts to implicate foreign powers, particularly the United States
and Britain, in instigating unrest. Authorities in Tehran have
portrayed the protests that followed the June presidential election as
an attempt to overthrow Iran's Islamic system.
One week ago, more than 100 detainees were brought to court on charges
of organizing mass protests and plotting to overthrow the government.
During that trial, several prominent opposition leaders and reformists
said they had retracted their original complaints about election fraud.
Iranian authorities have arrested thousands of people in a continuing
crackdown on opposition activists and protesters who contend the June
12 ballot was fraudulent, and that official reports of the size of the
vote for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were untrue.