British Council staffer sentenced to 10 years for 'spying': Iran

British Council staffer sentenced to 10 years for 'spying': Iran

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.

The British Council, a cultural and educational organisation with branches around the world, said in a statement that "it does not have offices or representatives in Iran, and does not do any work in Iran".

A London-based British Council employee, Aras Amiri, was arrested in Iran in 2018 during a trip to visit relatives, but it was not immediately clear if she was the person sentenced on Monday.

The organisation said it had not sent its employee to Iran on a work assignment.

Iranian authorities shut down the British Council there more than a decade ago for what Esmaili described as "illegal activities".

The British Council said previous year that it was aware that one of its staff had been detained while making a private family visit, without identifying them as Ms Amiri.

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Iran has sentenced an Iranian woman to ten years prison for spying for Britain, as tension rises between Tehran and the West over its nuclear and missile programmes. He said the suspect had been jailed in Iran for the past year while her case was under investigation. "We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage and are urgently seeking further information", a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

The spokesman said the convict has confessions about the process of being recruited by and cooperating with the so-called cultural council of the United Kingdom, trainings he received from the United Kingdom secret service, and his missions to carry out cultural projects in the country.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her daughter Gabriella.

Mr Esmaili said such actions "drew the attention of Iran's security and intelligence services", which led to the woman's arrest past year.

Iran does not recognise dual nationality. Though the British Embassy in Tehran has reopened, the British Council has been closed since 2009.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year term for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government - charges she denied.

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