Iran expels British diplomat

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The Independent Online
IRAN announced yesterday it had ordered a British diplomat to leave Tehran in retaliation for the expulsion of an Iranian envoy from Britain, the latest move in the sour relationship between the two countries.

The Foreign Office confirmed it had last week ordered the expulsion of Vahid Bolorchi, a first secretary at the Iranian embassy in London, who, it said, had distributed forged documents on Britain's policy over Bosnia. Tehran in turn ordered the expulsion of Britain's deputy head of mission in Iran, Hamish Cowell.

The Foreign Office said Mr Bolorchi was behind a number of amateurish faked letters, purporting to be from members of the British Cabinet, which have been sent to the British press since last year. In April, a faked letter from Douglas Hurd to Malcolm Rifkind congratulated the Defence Secretary on the success of British troops in carrying out Britain's policy in Bosnia.

The expulsions mark the latest diplomatic deterioration since the fatwa against the novelist Salman Rushdie was imposed more than five years ago. In April, Britain accused Iran of links with the IRA; Iran claimed Britain had planted listening devices in its London embassy.

A Foreign Office spokesman said Mr Bolorchi and other embassy personnel had been 'attempting to distribute forged documents purporting to show that Britain's policy in Bosnia was directed against Muslims'. The Iranian news agency, Irna, said: 'The real motive may be more associated with trying to hide the embarrassment of a bug being found in the Iranian embassy.' Iran's intelligence minister, Ali Akbar Fallahiyan, said the bug row was part of a wider 'espionage affair'.

The official Jomhuri Eslami newspaper said the expulsion was part of a propaganda campaign against Iran to please the United States.

Mutual mistrust, page 13