PARIS – A young French academic who battled spying charges in Iran for more than 10 months returned to France on Sunday and thanked President Nicolas Sarkozy and other officials for insisting on her innocence and pressing for her release.
Clotilde Reiss, 24, was accused of joining protests, gathering information, taking photos and sending them abroad during unrest that broke out after June’s disputed presidential elections in Iran. Her support committee said she was targeted for an innocuous e-mail to friends describing the events unfolding around her.
Reiss was convicted of provoking unrest and spying, but her lawyer said the 10-year jail term was commuted to a fine of $300,000. He said he paid the fine Saturday.
Ash cloud closes airports in Britain
LONDON – Britain’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports as well as others in northern Britain, Scotland and Ireland were closed during the early hours today due to volcanic ash from Iceland, British officials said.
Britain’s air traffic security system NATS said the airports would be closed from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. local time.
On Sunday, airports in Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds, and airports in parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland were closed. Dublin airport was also affected.
The ash comes from a volcano in Iceland’s Eyjafjallajoekull glacier, which started erupting in March.
Rebels say they’re open to peace talks
MANILA, Philippines – Muslim guerrillas said Sunday that they were ready to enter into peace talks with Philippine president-apparent Benigno Aquino III after years of little progress under his predecessor, hoping that his strong electoral mandate can bolster negotiations to end one of the country’s decades-long rebellions.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, however, said his group would reserve its expectations on the prospects of a peace accord under a new Aquino administration, recalling that talks initially went well under his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, but then collapsed.
“Aquino’s victory was untainted by allegations of vote-rigging unlike Arroyo’s,” Iqbal said. Arroyo stormy rule ends on June 30.
“He has more moral authority as a president and that will add to his clout,” Iqbal told the Associated Press.
The guerrillas congratulated Aquino on his expected victory, saying in an editorial on their website that he deserved “the admiration of all” for a near-impossible feat of having the winning edge in the elections even though he decided late to enter the presidential race.
Aquino is headed to a landslide victory based on an almost-complete count of the May 10 elections.