French Woman Freed From Iranian Jail

The French academic who is part of a mass trial in Iran has been freed from prison and turned over to the French embassy, but still faces charges, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Sunday.

Sarkozy said "that nothing can justify" the case against Clotilde Reiss, 24, and an embassy employee, who are accused of fanning a revolt aimed at bringing down Iran's Islamic rulers. He demanded that the charges be dropped as quickly as possible.

The president spoke with Reiss as soon as she left Tehran's Evin prison and reported that she was in good health and spirits, his office said in a statement.

She will stay at the French embassy "awaiting her return to France," the statement said.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner later said on the iTele TV station that bail was paid but that the sum was "not enormous."

Reiss was arrested July 1 and jailed after attending a postelection demonstration at the end of a five-month teaching job in the city of Isfahan. Reiss and a French-Iranian woman who works for the French Embassy, Nazak Afshar, went on trial Aug. 8 alongside more than 100 others. All were charged with fomenting revolt following Iran's disputed presidential elections.

Afshar was released from prison Aug. 11, but also still faces charges.

The president credited the European Union and allies, specifically Syria, for their help in obtaining Reiss's release from jail, echoing language he used to announce Afshar's release.

He thanked them for "the solidarity and support they have brought us and will continue to bring until our two compatriots have recovered their full freedom."

Since taking office in 2007, Sarkozy has worked to bolster ties with Damascus, which is a strong ally of Tehran.

Obtaining freedom for Reiss has become a cause celebre in France, and authorities have worked relentlessly to obtain her release.

Reiss and Afshar both apologized before the court for attending at least one demonstration, saying she did so because she was curious. She has been charged with acting against national security by joining protests, gathering information, taking photos and sending them abroad during postelection unrest in Iran.