Insider news & Analysis in Iran

An Iranian Regime appeals court has upheld a 10-year prison sentence for a British Council worker accused of “cultural infiltration”, which Iran thinks is basically espionage.

A judiciary spokesman said that Aras Amiri, who was born in Iran but lives in the UK, was identified “because of her cultural infiltration in society through arts and her widespread activities”.

This “infiltration” is a strange charge because Amiri’s role with the British Council, which is partly government-funded, is to increase Iranian culture in the UK.

Amiri was arrested during a trip to visit her severely ill grandmother in 2018 and her fiancé, James Tyson, said last week that she’s being used as a “hostage” by Iran as relations between Iran and the UK deteriorate.

Amiri, who has allegedly been held in solitary confinement and undergone a series of interrogations, is being held in the notorious Evin Prison, with British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was sentenced to five years for spying after visiting family in Iran in 2016.

On the same day, a dual British-Iranian national was also sentenced to 12 years on the charges on of spying for Israel's Mossad intelligence agency and "acquiring illegitimate wealth".

The British Foreign Office said in a statement shortly after the announcement that it was supporting the family of Anousheh Ashouri, who was arrested in Tehran in 2017.

The statement read: "Our embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access. The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and we raise their cases at the most senior levels. We urge Iran to let them be reunited with their families."

Iranian citizen Ali Johari was also jailed for 12 years on the charges of giving Israel information about construction projects by Khatam al Anbia, a construction firm affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), working for Israeli intelligence agencies, visiting Israel to get citizenship and "widespread connections with Mossad" in countries including India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

In related news, British-Iranian academic Kameel Ahmady was arrested in Iran this month, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and his wife, Shafagh Rahmani. Rahmani said Ahmady had not been charged and prosecutors had not disclosed the accusations.

While in July, Iran said it had captured 17 spies working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and sentenced some to death.

Iran's judiciary admitted that several dual nationals have been held over security-related issues, with Iran not recognising dual-nationality.

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