Iran ‘jails British Council employee for spying for UK’

File photo showing skyline of Tehran, Iran (1 April 2019)Picture copyright

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British diplomats in Tehran are looking for additional info from Iranian authorities

An Iranian lady has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in Iran for spying for the UK, officers say.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili stated the lady had been “accountable for the Iran desk” of the British Council, a cultural organisation.

She confessed to “co-operating” with British intelligence, he alleged.

Mr Esmaili didn’t determine the lady. However a London-based British Council worker and artwork pupil, Aras Amiri, was detained in Iran in March 2018.

Ms Amiri’s cousin stated final Could that she had been accused of “performing towards nationwide safety” – a cost that has been laid by Iranian authorities towards a spread of activists, journalists and a lot of twin residents and international nationals detained lately.

The UK is at present engaged in a protracted effort to free one other lady, the twin British-Iranian nationwide, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from jail in Tehran. She is serving a five-year sentence for spying – a cost she denied.

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At a information convention on Monday, Mr Esmaili stated the individual sentenced to 10 years for spying was “an Iranian feminine pupil” who had been “accountable for the Iran desk on the British Council”.

“The individual travelled to the nation [Iran] utilizing a false identify in an effort to implement design, plan and lead varied initiatives concerning the implementation of the cultural targets of the outdated colonialism [UK] inside Islamic Iran,” he added.

“The individual was concerned in contacting theatre and artwork teams to implement that very problem of cultural infiltration or cultural ambush.”

Mr Esmaili stated such actions “drew the eye of Iran’s safety and intelligence companies”, which led to the lady’s arrest final yr.

Information offered at her trial confirmed she “in a short time and clearly confessed” to passing info to British intelligence brokers, he added.

The British Council is the UK’s worldwide organisation working in arts and tradition, English language, schooling and civil society. It’s a charity ruled by Royal Constitution and receives a 15% core funding grant from the UK authorities.

It doesn’t have workplaces or representatives in Iran and doesn’t work in Iran.

The British Council stated final yr that it was conscious that considered one of its employees had been detained whereas making a personal household go to, with out figuring out them as Ms Amiri.

On Monday, its chief government, Sir Ciarán Devane, stated: “We’ve got seen studies that an Iranian nationwide, claimed to be an worker of the British Council, has been sentenced. Nevertheless we’ve not been in a position to verify that that is our colleague.

“Our colleague’s security and wellbeing stay our first concern, because it has been all through their detention.”

The British Council famous that the worker detained final yr was not head of “the Iran desk”, however somebody who “labored within the UK in a junior position to help and showcase the Iranian modern artwork scene to UK audiences”.

“We’re a non-political organisation dedicated to people-to-people engagement, and our employees will not be linked to any espionage company,” Sir Ciarán added.

The Overseas and Commonwealth Workplace stated it was very involved by the studies from Iran. “British embassy officers in Tehran are in contact with the Iranian authorities to hunt additional info,” it added.

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