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The Fate of UK Embassy Staff Arrested in Iran

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by X-PASTER, Jun 28, 2009.


    X-PASTER Moderator

    Jun 28, 2009
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    Eight Iranian employees of the British embassy in Tehran have reportedly been arrested, accused of stoking post-election unrest in the Islamic Republic.

    The semi-official Fars News Agency has not named its source for the story, which is now being looked into by the Foreign Office.

    Foreign Secretary David Miliband has condemned Iran's "intimidation" tactics.

    "This is harassment and intimidation of a kind which is completely unacceptable," he said, adding that "strong action" would follow if the detentions did not stop.

    He went on: "The idea that the British Embassy is somehow behind the demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in Tehran... is wholly without foundation."

    Iran has accused Western powers, especially the UK and the US, of inciting street protests in the wake of a disputed presidential election on June 12.

    Fars said in its report: "Eight local employees at the British embassy who had a considerable role in recent unrest were taken into custody. This group played an active role in provoking recent unrest."

    A Foreign Office spokesman in London said: "We have in the last few days received a number of sometimes confused reports that British nationals or others with British connections have been detained.

    "We continue to raise them with the Iranian authorities."

    The arrests will place further strain on relations between London and Tehran. Iran and Britain are embroiled in a bitter row over Iran's nuclear ambitions, amid tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats.

    Iran's foreign minister has warned Tehran is considering downgrading its ties with Britain.

    The country's intelligence minister claims some people with British passports were involved in post-election violence. State media say 20 people were killed in the protests.
  2. Ng'wanza Madaso

    Ng'wanza Madaso JF-Expert Member

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    The announcement came as Iran's top election body began a partial recount of the fiercely-disputed presidential election, after opposition demonstrators defiantly faced off against riot police in Tehran.

    "Out of nine people arrested, five have been released," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said at a press conference.

    Iran has repeatedly accused the West particularly Britain and the United States of "meddling" in the violent aftermath of the election, which triggered the biggest crisis since the Islamic revolution 30 years ago.

    But even as the international community voices continuing alarm over the situation in Iran, Ghashghavi said Tehran no plans to close embassies or downgrade diplomatic ties with foreign nations.

    The Fars news agency, announcing the arrests on Sunday, said the embassy staff had played a "considerable role" in the unrest that swept Iran after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 12.

    Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie accused the embassy of sending local staff "undercover among rioters in order to push its own agenda," the official IRNA news agency reported.

    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said London had protested strongly over the arrests, which he described as "harassment and intimidation" and dismissed as baseless claims the embassy was behind the unrest.

    EU nations also vowed to respond to any harassment of diplomats in Iran with a "strong and collective response", Miliband told reporters at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Corfu.

    But Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki -- who has previously said Tehran was considering downgrading its ties with London after the two nations expelled diplomats -- urged Britain and the EU not to take rash action over the arrests.

    "Don't continue with this losing game because this is neither in the interests of the British people nor the two countries' relations that have (already) been damaged because of the British government's behaviour," he said.

    Against the backdrop of diplomatic tensions, Iran began a partial recount of ballots cast in the election that the opposition claims was marred by widespread irregularities and fraud.

    "The Guardians Council has started a partial recount of 10 percent of the ballot boxes," state-owned Arabic-language television Al-Alam said.

    The opposition is demanding a complete rerun of the vote and has staged massive demonstrations in a dispute that has shaken the very foundations of the Islamic regime.

    On Sunday, riot police in Tehran dispersed about 3,000 supporters of Ahmadinejad's strongest rival Mir Hussein Mousavi who defied a ban on public gatherings, witnesses said.

    A witness spoke of a "minor confrontation" between police and the demonstrators who had gathered around Ghoba mosque to mark the anniversary of a prominent cleric killed in a bombing 28 years ago.

    The information could not be independently verified as foreign media are banned from the streets under tough new restrictions imposed by the authorities in the wake of the election.

    The Guardians Council, an unelected body of 12 jurists and clerics, has set up a committee to conduct the recount but Mousavi and fellow defeated candidate Mehdi Karroubi rejected the panel and declined to send any representatives to oversee the count.

    Karroubi, a reformist former parliament speaker, insisted in a letter to the council on Sunday that a partial recount was "not enough" and called for an independent body to probe "all aspects of the election."

    Mousavi, who was prime minister in the post-revolution years, won 34 percent of the vote against 63 percent for Ahmadinejad, a gap of 11 million votes, according to official results. Karroubi came a distant fourth with less than one percent.

    The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights said on Sunday that more than 2,000 people are still in detention and hundreds more are missing across Iran since a government crackdown on protesters and opposition supporters.

    Since the election at least 17 people have been also killed and many more wounded in clashes with security forces, according to state media.

    Among those arrested are reformists, journalists and analysts, including supporters of Mousavi and even some figures closed to top officials, in a sign of cracks appearing within the regime over the election.
  3. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    Embassy Workers To Be Tried In Tehran

    A top Iranian cleric said Friday that some of the detained Iranian staffers of the British Embassy in Tehran will be put on trial, and he accused Britain of a role in instigating widespread protests that erupted over the country's disputed presidential election.

    The announcement by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati alarmed European nations and fueled calls for tougher action against Tehran. Britan is pressing for members of the European Union to pull their ambassadors out of Tehran to protest the arrest of its embassy staffers last week — a step that the EU so far has hesitated to take.

    After Jannati's comments, French President Nicolah Sarkozy on Friday expressed backing for Britain, saying "our solidarity with our English friends is total." He said France backs sanctions "so that Iranian leaders will really understand that the path that they have chosen will be a dead end."

    The United States and Europe have been wary of reacting too harshly in Iran's post-election crisis, even as the government cracked down heavily on protests that erupted following the declaration of a landslide victory for incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 presidential election. The West has been hoping to keep open prospects for future dialogue with Tehran — particularly over its controversial nuclear program.

    Jannati, a powerful hard-liner who is close to Iran's supreme leader, told worshippers during a Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University that the detained staffers "made confessions."
    "In these events, their embassy had a presence," he said, referring to the post-election turmoil. "Some people were arrested. Well, inevitably, they will be put on trial."

    He did not say how many staffers will be tried or on what charges. Earlier Iranian officials said all but one of the nine embassy personnel originally arrested had been released, but European Union officials said they believed more than one was still being held.

    In London, a Foreign Office spokeswoman said of Jannati's comments that British officials are "very concerned about these reports and are investigating."

    In Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said "it's not acceptable to file charges against the ones released or the ones still in custody," though he added that the report had not yet been confirmed. On Thursday, EU countries demanded the release of the staffers, but held off on any sanctions for the time being.
    Jannati does not hold a position in the government or judiciary, but is the head of the Guardian Council, a powerful body in Iran's ruling clerical hierarchy that stands above the elected government.

    The council oversees elections, and it carried out a partial recount which was ordered after Ahmadinejad's pro-reform rival Mir Hossein Mousavi cried fraud and said he was the victor. The recount ultimately upheld Ahmadinejad's election victory. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared the results would stand, and ruling clerics promptly called the elections "pure" and "healthy."

    Iranian authorities have since depicted the widespread protests that erupted after the election as the work of outside enemies of Iran.
    Jannati told the thousands of worshippers that the British "had designed a velvet revolution ... In March, they said (in their Foreign Ministry) that street riots were possible during June elections. These are signs ... revealed by themselves."
    He also said those involved in protests "need to repent and ask God to forgive them."

    Giant protests erupted in Tehran and other cities over the results, but they were quashed in a tough crackdown after Khamenei declared unrest would no longer be tolerated. Iran's police chief has said 20 "rioters" were killed during the violence. During his sermon, Jannati said seven or eight members of the paramilitary Basij militia were also killed. Basijis took a leading role in putting down the protests, often clashing with demonstrators.

    There have been no street protests since Sunday, but Mousavi appears driven to maintain his opposition and even to raise the stakes. In a defiant statement on Wednesday, he said he considered the government illegitimate and demanded political prisoners be released. Still, he has been laying low, making no public appearances for days amid calls by many hard-liners for him to be prosecuted.

    Jannati took a tough line, indirectly accusing Mousavi of treason.
    Though he did not name Mousavi directly, Jannati pointed out that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, once said that "anyone disrupts unity has not only committed a sin but also has committed treason against the Islamic Republic and the system."
    Jannati demanded that those involved in the protests "repent and ask God to forgive them."

    Iranian cleric: British Embassy staff to be tried - Yahoo! News
  4. Ab-Titchaz

    Ab-Titchaz Content Manager Staff Member

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    Hawa mabwana wakihukumiwa Tehran ndo imetoka... "watakua
    funzo kwa wenzao"