Iran arrests British-Iranian university professor on 'security charges'

Imperial College London where Abbas Edalat works said it is 'concerned for his welfare'

Alina Polianskaya
Sunday 29 April 2018 19:42
Comments
Professor Abbas Edalat has been detained in Iran
Professor Abbas Edalat has been detained in Iran

Iran has confirmed that a professor who works at London’s Imperial College has been arrested on “security charges”.

British-Iranian academic Abbas Edalat was reportedly detained by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in mid-April, according to the New York-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

Today, Iran has confirmed his detention for the first time.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejehi told reporters in Tehran: “I confirm his arrest on security charges, but I am unable to give details,” according to state broadcaster IRIB.

Semi-official news agency Fars reported on Thursday that Edalat was part of an “infiltration network affiliated with Britain” whose members had been detained.

A Foreign Office spokesperson told The Independent: “We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities following reports of the arrest of a British-Iranian dual national.”

Imperial College confirmed that Prof Edalat has been employed by the University since 1989 and said it is “concerned for his welfare.”

The university issued a statement which said: "Professor Abbas Edalat is a valued colleague who has worked for Imperial College London since 1989.

“He is a Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics who has made many important academic contributions throughout his career.

“We are understandably concerned for his welfare following reports of his arrest in Iran and we are urgently seeking further information."

Prof Edalat is a founder of the US-based Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), an advocacy group that opposes foreign intervention in the Islamic Republic, according to CHRI.

The group said the academic had travelled to Iran for academic purposes and added that notebooks, a computer and CDs had been confiscated from him after his arrest, quoting an unnamed source.

Prof Edalat’s family posted bail for him earlier this month, according to the CHRI, but the Revolutionary Court in the country's capital Tehran, did not release him, citing problems with documentation, a statement from the group added.

The Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least 30 dual nationals since 2015, most for alleged espionage.

According to former prisoners, families of current ones and diplomats, in some cases the dual detainees are being held for use in prisoner swaps with Western countries.

Iran denies this.

At least three other British-Iranian dual nationals are currently being held in Iran, including Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The charity worker has been held for more than two years in a prison in Tehran after being arrested at the airport in April 2016 on her way back after a holiday with her young daughter Gabriella.

Boris Johnson faced widespread condemnation after mistakenly telling MPs that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching journalists when this was not the case as she had actually been on holiday.

Iranian media took the comments as an accidental confession that she was a spy – leading to Mr Johnson being forced to apologise for the gaffe and vowing to leave no stone unturned in securing her release.

Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said his wife was being used as a “bargaining chip”.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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