French researcher freed by Iran ‘helped’ DGSE, ex-agent says

A French researcher freed by Iran this past weekend after being detained for ten months provided information to France’s intelligence service, a former DGSE assistant director tells French media.

But the evidence he cites, that Clotilde Reiss dropped by the French embassy upon her arrival in Iran, seems pretty thin, and unnamed intelligence sources tell the French media that the former officer seems to be using Reiss’s high profile return to France this past weekend to promote his new memoir:

Pierre Siramy, a former assistant director of the DGSE, told French TV station LCI that [Clotilde] Reiss, who returned to Paris Sunday after 10 months in the Islamic Republic, had “collected information on Iran for France”.

“She worked on behalf of France, collecting information that was of a political nature, and also on nuclear proliferation. She’s registered with the DGSE,” said Siramy who in March published a book, Twenty-five years in the Secret Service.

According to Siramy, Reiss took it upon herself to go to the French embassy upon her arrival in Iran, something that local authorities would have discovered while examining her internet correspondence before her arrest.

But he told RFI later that Reiss was not a spy but an “occasional contact”.

Reiss, 24, a fluent Farsi speaker and Persian specialist, was arrested on 1 July at Tehran Airport, shortly before she was due to fly home from her study and teaching stint in the city of Isfahan.

Unnamed sources from with the agency, however, have rejected the allegations in the French press. They claim that Siramy could not be privy to such information, given that he had left the DGSE long before Reiss arrived in Iran.

The sources accuse Siramy of using the Reiss affair to promote his book.

Separately, a French court is expected to order the expulsion tomorrow of the Iranian, Ali Vakili Rad, charged with the 1991 assassination of former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar.

France and Iran have said they made no deal for Reiss’s release. Earlier this month, a French prosecutor ordered the release of an Iranian exporter whose extradition was sought by the United States on arms export control violations.