Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Aras Amiri was arrested in March 2018 while visiting family in Tehran and sentenced to 10 years in prison on a charge of espionage.

An Iranian employee of the British Council who has been jailed in Iran for more than three years and sentenced to 10 years in prison over widely criticized charges of espionage have returned to the UK after it was released, the organization said.

Aras Amiri has won her appeal to Iran’s Supreme Court, the British Council announced on Wednesday. She was arrested in March 2018 during a private trip to visit family in Tehran that did not involve her work at the government-founded cultural organization, she said earlier.

“We have always refuted the original charges against Aras,” the council said in a statement. statement. “We are very proud of her work in our London office as an arts program officer who supports a greater understanding and appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK.”

Due to tensions with Western powers, Iranian authorities banned cooperation with the British Council in 2019 and warned that such activities would lead to prosecution.

There was no immediate word on her release from the Iranian authorities.

But from Tehran, Amiri’s lawyer Hojjat Kermani confirmed her acquittal to The Associated Press news agency, saying that Iran’s Supreme Court ruled that her earlier espionage conviction in the country’s Revolutionary Court was “against Shariah”, or Islamic law. He did not expand.

Kermani said Amiri flew out of Tehran on Monday but was free in recent months when she appealed against a travel ban.

After detaining Amiri for months, Iran sentenced the British councilor to 10 years in prison in 2019 on charges of spying on cultural activities in Iran.

Her arrest highlighted the dangers facing those with Western ties to Iran after former US President Donald Trump abandoned Iran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers and piled up crushing sanctions against the country.

A number of dual civilians have ended up in Iranian prisons over the past few years as tensions simmer between Tehran and the West. Law groups accuse Iran of detaining dual nationals as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies.

A British-Iranian worker for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has been detained in Iran for more than five years on a charge of espionage, which has been denied.

After completing her sentence, Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from prison last year – only for authorities to sentence her another year in prison on new propaganda charges.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family links her imprisonment to a $ 530 million long-running debt dispute that London owes to Tehran for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered.

Another British-Iranian dual citizen, Anoush Ashoori, was sentenced at the same time as Amiri to 12 years in prison and remains in custody.

A United Nations panel has criticized what he calls “an emerging pattern involving the arbitrary deprivation of dual citizenship” in Iran.

Meanwhile, Western negotiators have sounded the alarm that time is running out to revive Iran’s collapsed nuclear deal.

After a five-month hiatus in talks, Iran is under recently elected hardline President Ibrahim Raisi offered it maximalist demands to the negotiating table, even as it accelerates its core program.

Iran now enriches uranium more than 60 percent – a short step from the weapon’s degree levels – and spins far more advanced centrifuges and more of them than were ever allowed under the agreement. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

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