Cablegate: France-Iran: Judicial Independence at the Root Of
DE RUEHFR #1228 2521027
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091027Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7118
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0387
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 7262
C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 001228
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2019
TAGS: PREL IR FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE-IRAN: JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AT THE ROOT OF
BAIL SET FOR KAKAVAND, PER PRESIDENCY ADVISOR
REF: A. A. PARIS 01205
B. B. BAGHDAD 02397
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathleen H. Allegrone
for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d).
1. (C) We met with Elysee strategic affairs advisor Richier
September 4 to follow up on reports that a French judge had
released Iranian national Majid Kakavand on bail and subject
to determination of a pending U.S. extradition request. In
previous conversations about the fate of French citizen
Clothilde Reiss and her release to French embassy custody in
Tehran, Richier had assured us that France had no intention
to negotiate with Iranian authorities on a prisoner exchange
and that President Sarkozy himself had been apprised of and
rejected an Iranian effort to seek the release of Kakavand.
2. (C) Responding to Pol M/C,s questions, Richier told us
that the Elysee had been taken completely by surprise by the
judge's decision. The prosecutor in the case had
consistently argued for holding Kakavand, but the judge had
determined that Kakavand "presented little chance for flight"
and had agreed to release him on 200,000 euro bond.
According to Richier, the Elysee reacted quickly and strongly
to news of the decision on August 28 and that there were very
sharp exchanges between the Office of the President (Elysee)
and the Justice Minister, but that the government cannot
reverse the judge,s decision. However, Richier assured us
that French authorities are keeping a close eye on
Kakavand,s whereabouts to prevent or interrupt possible
flight. They have established what Richier called "tight"
surveillance on Kakavand. Proving the point, Richier
telephoned to a colleague in one of the services who
confirmed that Kakavand was currently in buildings owned by
Iran and managed by the Iranian Embassy, located in Paris.
Richier added his own private observation that the way in
which the judgment was rendered in this case implies that the
request for extradition will be approved, although we must
wait until October for that decision.
3. (C) Comment: The French have been concerned, from the
beginning of their hostage case, about possible Iranian
pressure to exchange Iranian prisoners for French or U.S.
nationals held in Iran. Embassy Baghdad reporting (ref. b)
suggests that is exactly what Iran plans to do. Obviously
the French judge,s decision to grant Kakavand a temporary
release complicates the situation. However, Sarkozy,s
public tone and Richier,s strong comments, suggest that
France will make every effort to keep Kakavand under close
surveillance, pending a decision on the extradition request.