By Staff Writer
The British Council has said it believes one of its Iranian employees, Aras Amiri, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran for spying, the BBC reported.
Sir Ciarán Devane, chief executive of the United Kingdom cultural organization, said he was dismayed by the reported sentence and was “profoundly concerned for Aras’ safety and wellbeing”.
“We firmly refute the accusation levied against her,” Devane said.
The Iranian regime claims Amiri had ‘confessed’ to co-operating with British intelligence.
She was detained in March 2018 while visiting her elderly grandmother, and was charged two months later with “acting against national security,” the BBC said.
Amiri’s relatives say she is currently being held in the same section of Tehran’s Evin prison as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national sentenced to five years in prison for spying in 2016.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said the two women had become friends and that they were both chess pieces on the same political board.
Devane said Amiri had been “employed for five years in London to help greater appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK, for example supporting translations of Iranian books into English”.
“The British Council does not do any work in Iran and Aras did not travel to Iran for work. We will remain in close contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “very concerned”.
“We are awaiting details but I am proposing to meet relatives of the individual later this week because we’re very, very concerned about what’s happened and then we’ll do everything we can to support the individual,” he told Members of Parliament.