Britain concerned at reports Iran jailed woman for spying for UK

Britain concerned at reports Iran jailed woman for spying for UK

An Iranian national has been jailed for 10 years for spying for the UK.

Gholamhossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesman, said on state television that the woman worked for the British Council cultural agency and was cooperating with Britain's foreign intelligence service, but did not identify her.

Esmaili said the woman was in charge of projects for "cultural infiltration" in Iran.

The British Council is a non-political organization that works in education, arts and culture.

British council employee Aras Amiri, a 32-year-old Iranian national, was arrested in March last year after visiting her home country to see her ailing grandmother before the Persian new year.

The British Council said it does not have offices or representatives in Iran and it does not do any work in Iran.

A London-based British Council employee, Aras Amiri, was arrested in Iran in 2018.

A judiciary spokesperson said the woman, who has not been identified, confessed to the crime of spying.

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Esmaili said that during her confession, the suspect described how she had been recruited, telling investigators about her instructions from the "English security agency".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the charity arm of Thomson Reuters, was arrested in April 2016.

She has frequently denied the sedition charge levelled against her, insisting she was in the country on a family visit with her daughter.

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

The spokesman said the convict has confessions about the process of being recruited by and cooperating with the so-called cultural council of the United Kingdom, trainings he received from the United Kingdom secret service, and his missions to carry out cultural projects in the country.

The UK is now engaged in a long-running effort to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national serving a five-year sentence in the Islamic Republic for alleged espionage.

Amiri's cousin said in May 2018 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.

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