Trial of protesters seems only to hurt Iran, analysts say
Los Angeles Times / Borzou Daragahi

Reporting from Beirut -- The alleged French spy stood at the lectern Saturday in Tehran and described her dastardly act of collusion.

Clotilde Reiss, a pale, soft-spoken 24-year-old who had been teaching French in the central Iranian city of Esfahan when she was arrested, confessed to sending a single e-mail to a colleague in the capital.

In it, she described the unrest unfolding in Esfahan after taking part in a couple of peaceful protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I apologize to the Iranian nation and the court, and hope they will pardon me," the aspiring scholar was quoted as saying, appearing in court after spending five weeks in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison.

As a prosecutor sketched a vast foreign conspiracy against Iran at the second session of an extraordinary trial of alleged ringleaders of the unrest, experts were struggling to figure out the intent of the televised proceedings. More than 100 people were paraded before the cameras a week ago, followed by dozens more Saturday.

Not only has the government failed to silence the opposition or quell protests, including one that erupted outside the court building as the proceedings were underway Saturday, analysts said, but it appears to be seriously damaging the international credibility of the Iranian judiciary and political system.

Even among five supporters of Ahmadinejad approached Saturday in Tehran, all but one said they believ... >>>

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