Monday, 27 May, 2019

Iran: Suspect sentenced to 10 years for spying for Britain

US sanctions on Iran are hampering the implementation of the project US sanctions on Iran are hampering the implementation of the project
Patty Aguilar | 15 May, 2019, 14:45

An Iranian national has been jailed for 10 years for spying for the UK.

The convict was in charge of the "Iran Desk" at the British Council in Iran, the Judiciary Spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaili was quoted as saying on Monday.

Esmaili added that the suspect, who had been tasked with drawing up and managing cultural "infiltration" projects, was arrested by Iranian intelligence and security agencies "more than a year ago".

A friend of the sentenced woman identified her as Aras Amiri to the Reuters news agency, while British newspaper The Telegraph reported that one of Amiri's family members confirmed she was the person sentenced.

According to the organisation's website, it is not "physically present" in Iran.

Ms Amiri has a fiancé based in the United Kingdom, who has been unable to get a visa to visit her in Iran since her arrest. He said the suspect had been jailed in Iran for the past year while her case was under investigation.

The sentencing comes amid tensions between Iran and Britain over the fate of British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was arrested by Iranian authorities in 2016 as she was leaving Tehran.

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

In 2009, Iran closed the British Council offices in Tehran in response to the launch in London of the BBC's Persian service.

Iran offers Zaghari-Ratcliffe prisoner swap.

Amiri's cousin, Mohsen Omrani, told the Guardian a year ago she had been accused of colluding and acting against the national security.

Before her arrest, the 33-year-old Amiri had been living in London for 10 years - and had worked on cultural exchanges between Britain and Iran that included cooperation with Iran's Ministry of Culture. "We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage and are urgently seeking further information", a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

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.

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