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Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 20:47 UK

French anger as Iran holds woman

French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, pictured 14 June, 2009
Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner is demanding the woman's release

France has demanded the release of a French academic who it says has been detained in Iran since 1 July, accused of spying.

The French foreign ministry condemned the arrest of the unnamed woman and said the allegations of spying did not stand up to examination.

The French news agency AFP says the woman is an academic in Isfahan.

She had been in Iran for five months, and was arrested at Tehran airport as she was about to depart for Beirut.

"We call on the Iranian authorities to free our compatriot immediately and allow her to leave Iran for France," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the Iranian ambassador in Paris had been summoned for an explanation.

Increased tension

Tensions between Iran and Western countries - including France - have risen since the disputed Iranian presidential election last month.

Earlier, Britain announced that the eighth of nine British embassy employees detained by Iran had been released.

The remaining detainee, who is Iranian, is the chief political analyst at the UK embassy in Tehran.

Britain has described his continued detention as unacceptable and unjustified.

The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has, meanwhile, warned the West not to "meddle" in Iran's affairs.

"Some leaders of Western countries at the level of president, prime minister and foreign minister openly intervened in Iran's internal affairs that had nothing to do with them," Ayatollah Khamenei was quoted as saying on Iranian television.



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