Report: UK embassy staff in Iran ‘face trial’

Iranian students protest outside the British embassy in Tehran on June 23.
A top Iranian cleric said Friday some of the arrested employees from the British Embassy in Tehran would be put on trial, Iranian Students News Agency reported.

The employees have been accused of helping to incite some of the post-election protests that sweep through Iran. The British Foreign Office in London reacted strongly to the statement Friday. “We are very concerned by these reports and are investigating. Allegations that our staff were involved in fomenting unrest are wholly without foundation. We will be seeking an urgent explanation from the Iranians,” a Foreign Office representative told CNN. The Iranian news agency quoted the Ayatollah Jannati at Friday prayers saying that the “British foreign office had said last March that there may be riots during the elections in Iran and they said that they should warn their citizens to be careful. What do these predictions mean And then some people in the U.K. embassy, who had a hand in the disturbances, were arrested and will surely be put on trial.” Iranian officials had said that all but one of the nine embassy staffers arrested had been released after they were taken into custody on June 27. But Britain’s Foreign Office told CNN Friday that two staffers were still detained. The office did not offer more details. Iran’s intelligence minister has blamed Western powers for stirring up protests over its disputed presidential election, singling out Britain and saying the British Embassy in Tehran “played a heavy role in the recent disturbances.”

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“The fact that Iran is stable, calm and secure, they’re upset with this,” Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hosein Mohseni Ejei told Press TV.

The Iranian government has long accused other countries, especially Britain, of “meddling” in its affairs, but has offered no proof any outside forces have been involved in the unrest since the election. Last week, Iranian authorities said they had arrested several foreign nationals, some with British passports, for allegedly helping foment the disturbances. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has repeatedly denied the allegations.