Iran renews calls for France to free businessman


Iran was on Tuesday ramping up pressure on France to release an Iranian businessman who has been accused by the United States of purchasing electronic components and exporting them to Iran.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has urged France not to be “trapped in American propaganda” and release Majid Kakavand, a 37-year-old Iranian engineer.

Kakavand was arrested at a Paris airport in March last year after a holiday and was later released on bail.

A French court is holding hearings at the request of the US to extradite Kakavand on suspicion of exporting electronic components to Iran from Malaysia.

It has asked for expert advice to determine whether the goods could be used for military purposes, and is due to hold another hearing on 31 March.

Iran asserts Kakavand’s innocence and has urged Washington to “stop plotting” against Iranian nationals.

It says 11 of its citizens are being held in US jails, including a nuclear scientist who went missing in Saudi Arabia last year.

Mehmanparast added that the resolution passed by the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, to send Iranian citizens good wishes on Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is overshadowed by its other actions against Iran.

Kavakand’s case comes at a sensitive time when France is seeking the release of 24-year old academic Clotilde Reiss, who is being held in Iran on charges of acting against Iranian national security.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has linked Reiss’s release to the fate of Iranians held in French jails.

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