Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Video: Dozens arrested despite smaller protests in Ferguson

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Britain protests four-year sentence for Tehran embassy worker

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-10-29

The reported four-year sentence handed down to an Iranian worker at the British embassy in Tehran is "an attack against the entire diplomatic community in Iran," according to British Foreign Minister David Miliband.

Reuters - Britain said on Thursday it was deeply concerned by reports that an Iranian employee at its embassy in Tehran had been sentenced to four years in jail after being put on trial for espionage.

Calling Hossein Rassam's reported sentencing "an attack against the entire diplomatic community in Iran", Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the Foreign Office had called in Iran's ambassador to London to protest.

The Foreign Office could not say which reports Miliband was referring to, and no immediate comment was available from Iranian officials.

Rassam, political counsellor at the British embassy in Tehran, was put on trial in August along with a Frenchwoman and dozens of moderates accused of inciting unrest after Iran's disputed June presidential election.

His trial further soured relations between Britain and Iran, already strained over Iran's nuclear programme which Britain and other Western countries suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Iran says the programme is only for power generation.

"Reports that Hossein Rassam has been sentenced to four years in prison are deeply concerning," Miliband said in a statement.

"Such a decision is wholly unjustified and represents further harassment of embassy staff for going about their normal and legitimate duties," said Miliband.

He said the British ambassador in Tehran had expressed Britain's concerns to Iran's deputy foreign minister and that a senior Foreign Office official had called in the Iranian ambassador in London, Rasoul Movahedian.

‘Harsh sentence’

"We understand the sentence can be appealed (against). I urge the authorities to conduct this quickly and overturn this harsh sentence," said Miliband.

"We are in close touch with EU and other international partners, who continue to show solidarity in the face of this unacceptable Iranian action.

"This will be seen as an attack against the entire diplomatic community in Iran and important principles are at stake."

Britain's Times newspaper said on Thursday Rassam, 44, was sentenced in a closed courtroom this week.

Rassam was among nine local British embassy staff detained for alleged involvement in the unrest that followed the disputed June election that gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term. Iran accused Western countries of fuelling the unrest.

All were later released, although Rassam's bail was set at nearly $100,000.

Britain is one of six world powers pressing Iran to curb uranium enrichment or face the prospect of tougher sanctions.

Iran has historically been suspicious of British activities in the region but relations have worsened in the past few years.

In March 2007, Iranian forces seized eight Royal Navy sailors and seven marines in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, before freeing them 12 days later.

Soon after the June election, Britain expelled two Iranian diplomats after Iran forced two British diplomats to leave.

This month, Britain ordered financial firms to halt all business relations with Iran's Bank Mellat and Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, citing fears they were involved in helping to develop nuclear weapons.

Date created : 2009-10-29

COMMENT(S)