TEHRAN: An Iranian assassin arrived back in Tehran late Tuesday after leaving a French prison, amid a row over whether his release was tied to that of a French academic, Reiss, freed by Iran three days earlier.
Ali Vakili Rad served 16 years for stabbing and strangling to death the deposed Shah’s last Prime Minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, outside Paris in 1991. He was convicted of the murder in 1994 and deported. According to reports Rad was greeted upon his arrival by two senior officials. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner insisted there had been no deal between Paris and Tehran ahead of Reiss’ return home on Sunday after a 10-month ordeal.
Rad’s lawyer also dismissed the claims.”The Reiss affair did nothing but complicate and delay my client’s release” he said. Reiss, a fluent Farsi speaker and Iran specialist, was arrested on July 1 as she was preparing to fly home after a six-month study and teaching stint in the city of Isfahan. She was accused of taking and emailing photos of protests that erupted after the disputed re-election of Ahmadinejad in June, and handing material to a diplomat at the French embassy in Tehran.
“To say that nothing had been offered in return for Reiss’ release amounts to taking us for fools,” said Socialist Party spokesman Benoit Hamon. Giving the victory sign, Rad promised he would speak out about his years in prison.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 20th, 2010.
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