Aras Amiri has returned to the UK after being imprisoned in Iran

LONDON – A British cultural organization said Wednesday that one of its employees from Iran had been acquitted of espionage charges by that country’s Supreme Court and was back in Britain after spending more than three years in prison.

While visiting her grandmother in Iran, the woman, Aras Amiri, was arrested in March 2018 along with other Iranians with links to the British, in what was seen as an attempt by authorities to shoot part of an old dispute with Great Britain for more than 400 dollars. million undelivered weapons.

Ms. Amiri, an art student employed for five years by the British Council to animate “greater appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK. is an Iranian citizen who lived in Britain for around 10 years before being detained. Iran’s Supreme Court acquitted her in August, the council said, and she returned to Britain this week after the travel ban associated with her initial detention was lifted.

Credit…Photo provided by Mohsen Omrani

Ms. Amiri’s acquittal underscores the Iranian authorities’ frequent targeting of citizens with dual nationality and Iranian citizens with ties to the West, often using their cases as diplomatic bargaining chips or to press for the release of Iranian prisoners abroad.

She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2019, a sentence that was handed out on Iranian state-funded television before she or her lawyer were told, according to a letter Ms Amiri wrote. in June 2019 from prison, which his cousin, Mohsen Omrani, sent at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group.

According to the same letter to Iranian justice chief Ebrahim Raisi, Ms Amiri said she had been imprisoned because of her association with the British Council and had refused an ‘explicit invitation’ to spy for the ministry. Iranian Intelligence.

“We have always refuted the original charges against Aras,” the board said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are very proud of her work in our London office as an Arts Program Officer.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Ms Amiri’s lawyer, Hojjat Kermani, said Iran’s Supreme Court had determined that her previous espionage conviction was “contrary to Sharia”, otherwise known as Islamic law.

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a British-Australian scholar detained in 2018 on charges of spying for Israel, was freed in December in a prisoner swap with three Iranian men.

Ms. Amiri was incarcerated in Evin prison, north of Tehran. Ahead of her acquittal and return to Britain, Ms Amiri was temporarily released on furlough in April 2020 due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Another Anglo-Iranian national, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, was also held in Evin prison.

In April 2020, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe – a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the time of her arrest, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government in Tehran – said also granted indefinite leave. (Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was given a one-year sentence and a travel ban in April, on new charges of carrying out “propaganda activities” against the Iranian government.

Several foreigners and dual nationals are detained in Iranian prisons, including Nahid Taghavi, a German-Iranian architect; Siamak Namazi, a businessman, and his father, Baquer Namazi, a former Unicef ​​official, both Iranian-Americans; Dr. Ahmad Reza Jalali, Swedish-Iranian physician and researcher; and Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American environmentalist.

Farnaz Fassihi contributed reports.

Comments are closed.