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Iran defies condemnation, expands opposition trial

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran expanded a mass trial of opposition supporters on Sunday with the addition of 25 defendants — including a Jewish teenager — in defiance of international condemnation, as France said Iran agreed to release a French woman held on spying charges from prison.

The defendants are among more than 100 people charged with plotting a "soft revolution" against the Islamic theocracy during the postelection protests. The mass trial is part of an attempt to put an end to the protests by those who say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's June 12 re-election was the result of fraud.

In apparent attempt to fend off criticism and move ahead with his second term, Ahmadinejad named three women who, if confirmed, would be Iran's first female Cabinet ministers since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The trial, now in its third session, has included a number of televised confessions and has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups that allege the confessions are coerced. The U.S. last week labeled the event a "show trial."

The trial and official acknowledgments that some detainees have been abused in prison have only added to anger among both opposition supporters and some conservatives upset with the treatment of protesters.

The additional defendants brought the total number being tried to 135.

The defendants include a number of high-ranking politicians linked to the country's pro-reform movement as well as employees from the British and French embassies and an Iranian-Canadian reporter for Newsweek magazine.

A 24-year-old French academic, Clotilde Reiss, who had appeared during one of the previous court sessions, was freed Sunday from an Iranian prison, the French president's office said late Sunday.

She was arrested July 1 for attending a postelection demonstration. During her court appearance, Reiss apologized for attending the demonstration but said she did so because she was curious. The French Foreign Minister has said the statement was "worked on," suggesting it was coerced.