British embassy staffers held in Iran over unrest

British embassy staffers held in Iran over unrest

(CNN) — Local staff members at the British Embassy in Tehran have been arrested, the Foreign Office in London told CNN Sunday, confirming earlier reports from Iran’s government-backed Press TV.

Press TV said eight staffers had been seized for their role in the unrest following the disputed presidential elections on June 12. The Foreign Office did not confirm the number of people held.

Earlier Sunday the Foreign Office said it had recently “received a number of, sometimes confused, reports that British nationals or others with British connections had been detained. We continue to raise them with the Iranian authorities.”

A spokesman further added: “People with a connection to the UK have been arrested all week.”

Last week, Tehran expelled two British diplomats. London responded by kicking out two Iranian envoys.

Iran then recalled its ambassador to Britain, saying it would reconsider its diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom.

Withdrawing an ambassador is a very serious gesture in diplomatic circles.
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The Iranian government has long accused other countries, especially Britain, of “meddling” in its affairs, but has offered no proof any outside forces have been involved in the unrest after the disputed June 12 presidential election.

On Wednesday, Iranian authorities said they had arrested several foreign nationals, some with British passports, for allegedly helping foment the disturbances.

At the time, the Foreign Office said it was looking into the claims. It said it was aware that one of the arrested nationals was Washington Times reporter Iason Athanasiadis, who also goes by Jason Fowden.

Athanasiadis holds British and Greek passports.

Meanwhile, the Iranian government will allow a demonstration at Tehran’s Ghoba mosque Sunday, CNN has confirmed.

The gathering is officially meant to honor Mohammad Beheshti, a hero of the 1979 Islamic Revolution who was killed in a bombing on this date in 1981

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