British-Iranian citizen 'jailed for six years in Iran after conviction for spying for UK intelligence services'

Iranian prosecutors reveal new case involving espionage claims but disclose no details of unnamed prisoner

Chris Baynes
Sunday 11 March 2018 22:01 GMT
A female prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison
A female prison guard stands along a corridor in Tehran's Evin prison

A British-Iranian citizen has been jailed in Iran for six years after being convicted of spying for the UK, according to the country’s judiciary.

Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari-Dolatabadi said the prison sentence had been given to “an agent of England’s intelligence service” with dual nationality.

His comments were published by the state-run Mizan news agency, which gave no further details on the person or the case, which appears not to have been previously disclosed.

It remains unclear when and where they were arrested and convicted.

Mr Jafari-Dolatabadi was quoted as saying the British-Iranian citizen was also under investigation in a separate case related to a private bank.

The UK Foreign Office was not immediately aware of the case and said it was looking to obtain further information.

A spokeswoman said: “We are currently investigating the reported sentencing of a British-Iranian dual national with the Iranian authorities.”

Iran does not recognise dual citizenship, which limits the access foreign embassies have to their dual citizens held in the country.

At least two British-Iranian citizens are known to be held in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, who was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of seeking to overthrow the Islamic Republic in 2016.

The 39-year-old maintains she was in Iran visiting relatives when she was arrested in April that year, and her case has been taken up by the British Government.

Kamal Foroughi, a 78-year-old British-Iranian businessman, remains behind bars in Tehran after his arrest in 2011. He sentenced to eight years for espionage and alcohol possession but his family says there is no evidence he was a spy.

The Foreign Office says it has raised both cases with the Iranian authorities.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least 30 dual nationals since 2015, mostly on spying charges, according to Reuters.

This week Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband called on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to explain why she had not been freed.

Richard Ratcliffe said Iranian authorities had sanctioned her release and it was not clear what was delaying his wife’s return to the UK.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s employers and the UK Government have each backed her claim that she was in Iran to introduce her young daughter Gabriella to her parents.

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