Clutching flowers, American mothers visit detained US hikers in Iran
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal were briefly let out of Evin prison to visit their mothers in a Tehran hotel. The mothers want to bring their children home, but Iran may be waiting for a prisoner swap with the US.
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Yet in recent weeks, a series of events has prompted widespread speculation that Iran did strike a deal with France – which has been one of the loudest proponents of new UN sanctions against Iran. France has made similar deals in the past for the freedom of French citizens. Shortly after Ms. Reiss was freed, France released Mr. Rad.Skip to next paragraph
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On May 7, a French court denied a US extradition request for Iranian engineer Majid Kakavand, on charges of smuggling sensitive American dual-use electronics to Iran through Malaysia. The move was greeted with triumph in Tehran.
Nine days later Reiss was set free in Tehran and allowed to go home. Though she and the French government deny any deal was struck, a former French intelligence agent claimed that Reiss had, in fact, been a useful “informant” in contact with French intelligence in Tehran, and “wrote reports on the atmosphere and in the area of arms proliferation.”
Reiss this week “categorically” denied the “lies” of former French intelligence members, in a statement to Agence France-Presse. She said: “I’m shocked to discover such a climate of suspicion in my own country, when that’s what I had to live with in Iran.”
Tehran source: Iran believed Reiss was French agent
A source in Tehran close to Iranian intelligence circles stated in communication with the Monitor several months ago that Iran believed Reiss was a French agent, who among other activities had been making deliberate contact with construction workers involved in building Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.
Two days after Reiss arrived back in Paris, a French judge effectively ended Rad’s life sentence for murder by issuing an expulsion order. State-run TV showed the convicted assassin arriving back in Tehran to a hero’s welcome.
“A prisoner exchange deal raises questions about both the autonomy of the French courts and France’s commitment to preventing the illicit procurement of sensitive items for Iran’s missile and nuclear programs,” the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security said in an analysis yesterday. “While the unlawful detention of foreign nationals in Iran is cause for concern, this quid pro quo makes more likely the occurrence of further groundless detentions…and [Iran] now has a French precedent to follow.”
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