Iran sentences Iranian woman to 10 years for spying for UK

Lester Mason
May 15, 2019

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of high-ranking judicial officials, Gholamhossein Esmaili said that the individual had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for cooperating with British intelligence services thought conducting cultural projects.

He said the sentence was handed down recently and did not identify the suspect, who "had made a straightforward confession and was sentenced to 10 years by the court".

"She has later received the necessary trainings under the British security service, and after they trusted her, she was in charge of the Iran desk at the British Council and organized different activities", Esmayeeli explained, according to Fars.

Ms Amiri's case bears similarities to that of British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been detained in the country since 2016. Her sentence has been widely criticized.

Iran does not recognize dual nationalities.

The arrest of Iranians accused of espionage has increased since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said previous year there had been "infiltration" of Western agents in the country.

The British Foreign Office did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

The British Council noted that the employee detained past year was not head of "the Iran desk", but someone who "worked in the United Kingdom in a junior role to support and showcase the Iranian contemporary art scene to United Kingdom audiences".

British council employee Aras Amiri, a 32-year-old Iranian national, was arrested in March last year in Iran.

"We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage and are urgently seeking further information", an FCO spokesperson told Al Jazeera. "We are dismayed by this reported sentence and are profoundly concerned for Aras' safety and wellbeing, which has been our absolute priority throughout her detention since early 2018".

"We are a non-political organisation committed to people-to-people engagement, and our staff are not connected to any espionage agency", Sir Ciarán added. Though the British Embassy in Tehran has reopened, the British Council has been closed since 2009.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, has been separated from his daughter, Gabriella, who was with her mother when she was detained in Iran and has since remained in the country with her grandparents.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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