Iran: Suspect sentenced to 10 years for spying for Britain

Iran jails British Council employee for a decade for 'spying'

Iran said on Monday it had sentenced an Iranian woman to 10 years prison for spying for Britain, as tension rises between Tehran and some Western countries over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The spokesman further said that the agent had confessed to the his/her cooperation with the British-based cultural council and had transferred good intelligence to the British security services and had been sentenced to 10 years in prison. "British Council was cooperating with English spying agencies", Mizan reported, quoting judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

Iran is already holding British-Iranian national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is in jail in Tehran for alleged sedition.

"An Iranian citizen in charge of the Iran desk at the".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and was arrested in 2016 while visiting relatives for the Persian New Year.

The British Council is the UK's worldwide organisation working in arts and culture, English language, education and civil society.

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In 2009, Iran closed the British Council offices in Tehran in response to the launch in London of the BBC's Persian service.

On Monday, its chief executive, Sir Ciarán Devane, said: "We have seen reports that an Iranian national, claimed to be an employee of the British Council, has been sentenced".

It also said "our colleague who was detained previous year is not head of "the Iran desk", (but rather) worked in Britain in a junior role to support and showcase the Iranian contemporary art scene to United Kingdom audiences".

"We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage and are urgently seeking further information", a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

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

"This targeted campaign against foreign and dual nationals sends a threatening message to Iranian expatriates and foreigners interested in working in Iran, that their knowledge and expertise are a liability if they visit the country", HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whiston said in September 2018.

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