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Iran releases French national arrested for illegal entry in October

Businesswoman was arrested on Gulf island of Kish for unauthorised entry and allegedly signing illegal mining contract
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian raised woman's case in parliament (AFP/file photo)

Iran released a French citizen arrested for entering the country illegally, official news agency IRNA reported on Sunday, days after France's foreign minister discussed her case in parliament.

"A French national who had been arrested for unauthorised entry into Iran has been released in recent days as the legal proceedings took their course and other charges were dropped," foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told IRNA, which did not reveal the person's name or gender, AFP said.

A French diplomatic source said the person released was Nelly Erin-Cambervelle, a 59-year-old businesswoman from Martinique, whose case was raised before MPs last week by Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The source said Erin-Cambervelle left Iran on Sunday.

Le Drian on Wednesday told parliament that Paris was in touch with Tehran about improving the conditions of the businesswoman arrested in October on the Gulf island of Kish for unauthorised entry and allegedly signing an illegal mining contract.

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Erin-Cambervelle had been on Kish - a free-trade zone allowing visa-free entry for visitors from most countries - as part of her import-export business, according to Le Drian.

"She went to Kish island, not far from Dubai, which is considered to be Iranian territory. She was arrested on the grounds of having signed an illegal contract and carrying out a non-authorised trip," he said.

Details over her arrest first appeared in Martinique media last week after Patricia Gros-Desirs Dicanot, a friend and colleague, was cited as saying that Erin-Cambervelle had been arrested for allegedly illegally buying gold after going to Kish to negotiate a minerals contract.

Relations between France and Iran have been strained over the last six months despite the two sides committing to upholding a 2015 nuclear deal, after the United States withdrew from the accord.

Paris suspended nominating a new ambassador to Iran last year over an alleged bomb plot by Iranian intelligence and has not responded to Tehran's nominations for the top diplomatic post in France, AFP said. Iran has denied involvement in any plot.

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