Sarkozy Pushing for Release of Frenchwoman in Iran

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is working to secure the release of a French academic who is among the accused in a mass trial in Iran, the president's office said Monday.

France's Foreign Ministry called the release of Clotilde Reiss and a French-Iranian woman also on trial, Nazak Afshar, "our very first priority."

Reiss, 24, was arrested July 1 after five months teaching in the Iranian city of Isfahan and after taking photos of an Iranian opposition demonstration.

She and Afshar, an employee of France's Embassy, are among more than 100 people on trial in Tehran, accused of challenging the Islamic system. Others include prominent reformist activists and political figures.

Sarkozy, who is on vacation in southern France, is following Reiss' case "extremely attentively" and is "multiplying his contacts among all those" who could help secure her release, a presidential aide said.

The aide would not provide details of whom Sarkozy was talking with or their nationalities, citing security reasons. The aide was not authorized to be named because of presidential palace policy.

France's ambassador in Tehran is in "constant contact with the Iranian authorities" about the two women's detention, Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told an online briefing Monday.

"The release of Clotilde Reiss and Nazak Afshar is our very first priority," Nadal said. He said French authorities have had no direct contact with Reiss in recent days.

Meanwhile, Reiss' father disputed English translations of her statement to the Iranian court.

Iran's IRNA news agency quoted Reiss as apologizing for attending street protests and said she sent a "report" to a French institute and the French Embassy about the demonstrations.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday she wrote simply a "note" to the French Institute for Iranian Research.

Her father, Remi Reiss, said on France-2 television that she sent only an e-mail, not a formal "report."

The e-mail "was about what she was living through, but in the sense of 'rest assured...I am doing fine,"' he said. He said the French Embassy was copied in on the e-mail.

He said he had "hope" that she would be freed soon.

France was outspoken in criticism of the Iranian authorities' response to days of opposition protests in Iran that left several dead and dozens arrested. Protesters said June 12 presidential election results were plagued with fraud.