IRAN: British Council worker jailed for spying for UK

'British spy' is jailed for ten years in Iran 'after confessing'

Iran has sentenced an employee of the British Council to 10 years in prison on espionage charges, the country's judiciary spokesman said Monday.

Monday's report by the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted the spokesman of the judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, as saying the suspect worked for the British Council and cooperated with Britain's intelligence.

He said the convict, who was arrested by Iranian intelligence and security organizations, had been cooperating with the British espionage service and was tasked with designing, managing and planning cultural infiltration projects in Iran.

According to the organisation's website, it is not "physically present" in Iran.

Iran closed down the British Council's offices in Tehran in 2009.

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.

He said the woman had been in custody for nearly a year. We have not been able to confirm any further details at this stage. "We are in close contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office". He said the suspect had been jailed in Iran for the past year while her case was under investigation.

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The sentencing comes amid tensions between Iran and Britain over the fate of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested by Iranian authorities in 2016 as she was leaving Tehran.

The arrest of Iranians accused of espionage has increased since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said a year ago there had been "infiltration" of Western agents in the country.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is serving a five-year term for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government - charges she denied.

Ms Amiri's cousin said last May that she had been accused of "acting against national security" - a charge that has been laid by Iranian authorities against a range of activists, journalists and a number of dual citizens and foreign nationals detained in recent years.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Iran has arrested at least 14 dual or foreign nationals since 2014, many of whom HRW said had been charged by courts of "cooperating with a "hostile state" without sufficient evidence.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband revealed earlier this year that his wife had been asked to spy on the United Kingdom in exchange for her freedom, which she refused.

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