Accused of “spying” | Foreign diplomats arrested in Iran

(Tehran) The Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s ideological army, have detained foreign diplomats accused of “espionage,” Iran’s Fars news agency and state television reported on Wednesday.

Posted at 3:36pm

“Revolutionary Guard Intelligence has identified and arrested diplomats from foreign embassies who were spying in Iran,” Fars News Agency reported.

The agency said one of them, a Briton, was then “expelled from the country after apologizing”.

But state television claimed the British diplomat, named Giles Whitaker, had been expelled from “the area” where the diplomats were arrested in central Iran.

In London, the Foreign Office denied the arrest of one of its diplomats in Iran. “The press reports about the arrest of a diplomat are completely false,” said a spokesman.

The nationality of the other arrested diplomats, their number and the date of their arrest were not initially known.

State television accused the British diplomat of “carrying out secret service operations” in “areas where” military maneuvers with missile tests took place.

A television video shows footage of a man billed as Giles Whitaker speaking in a room.

According to the television, the British diplomat “is among the people who went to the Shahdad desert […] as tourists. As the pictures show, this person took pictures […] in a restricted area in which a military exercise was taking place at the same time”.

Giles Whitaker took over as deputy ambassador to Tehran in 2018.

According to the Fars agency, those arrested primarily took rock samples in the desert for “espionage” purposes.

Israel pointed this out

Television has implicated Israel, a sworn enemy of Iran, in these cases. “Apparently, Israel wants to open a file on the possible military dimension of Iran’s nuclear program by using third-country nationals linked to Western embassies.”

Israel accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons, which that country denies.

State television also showed images of another arrested man, presented as “Maciej Walczak, Head of the Department of Microbiology at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland”. “This university is affiliated with the Zionist regime,” she said, referring to Israel.

Maciej Walczak, whose nationality is not specified, “entered Iran with three other people as part of scientific exchanges, but he went to the desert region of Shahdad as a tourist on missile tests,” the same source said. He “took rock samples from there”.

Another arrested person is portrayed by television as “Ronald, the husband of the culture officer at the Austrian embassy”. He is accused of “taking rock samples” from a village in the Damghan region east of Tehran and “filming a military area in Tehran”.

westerners arrested

Last March, two Iranian-British Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released after serving prison sentences on charges they have always denied.

“Parallel” to this publication, London announced that it had settled an old debt of £394 million (€470 million) with Tehran, without establishing a connection between the two cases.

More than a dozen Westerners, mostly dual citizens, are currently detained in Iran suspected of trying to exchange them for Western concessions.

Negotiations between Tehran and the West have been ongoing for more than a year to try to revive the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, struck in Vienna in 2015, with the key for the Islamic Republic, the lifting of sanctions.

The unilateral US withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and the re-imposition of tough economic sanctions had prompted Iran to breach its own commitments. These discussions have been blocked since March.

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