Britain believes it is “plausible” that an Anglo-Iranian citizen who disappeared more than a month ago in Dubai may have been kidnapped on the orders of Tehran, according to government sources.
Abbas Yazdi, 44, vanished on 25 June after giving evidence via video link from his office in the Gulf state’s commercial district to a tribunal adjudicating in a dispute between two oil companies.
His wife Atena has said she fears he is being held by Iranian intelligence officers in a repeat of an earlier incident in 1993 when Mr Yazdi was detained and tortured by the authorities. Upon his release after six months in solitary confinement, he fled Iran for Britain and was granted British citizenship.
Foreign Secretary William Hague last week raised the issue of his disappearance with his Iranian counterpart. A UK government source told Reuters: “We believe allegations that elements in Iran might be responsible for Mr Yazdi’s disappearance are plausible, and we are taking them very seriously.”
The incident will further poison relations between London and Tehran, already struggling due to the protracted dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. Britain closed its embassy in Tehran in 2011 after an attack blamed on an officially-sanctioned protest.
Mr Yazdi, a father of two, has privileged access to senior Iranian figures. He is a childhood friend of the son of the former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Atena Yazdi told the United Arab Emirates-based website 7Days: “If he is still in the UAE I’m sure the police can find him. If he’s in Iran, it’s completely different. I hope and pray for his safety.” A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are very concerned about his welfare.”