Iran jails British Council worker for a decade for ‘spying’

An Iranian lady accused of “spying” for the United Kingdom has been sentenced to ten years in prison in Iran, a spokesperson for the country’s judiciary has said.

Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili advised reporters at a press convention on Monday that the female had been “in charge of the Iran desk” of the British Council, a cultural organization, and confessed to “cooperating” with UK intelligence officials.

He did not discover the suspect, however, stated she had been sentenced recently after she “made a sincere confession”.

Esmaili brought that the suspect, whom he alleged had been tasked with drawing up and managing cultural “infiltration” tasks, had been arrested by Iranian intelligence and protection groups “greater than a yr in the past”.

A London-based British Council worker, Aras Amiri, turned into arrested in Iran in 2018.

A pal of the sentenced girl diagnosed her as Aras Amiri to the Reuters information employer, even as British newspaper The Telegraph mentioned that one among Amiri’s circle of relatives contributors confirmed she turned into the person sentenced.

Monday’s statement brought on a direct response from London, with the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) announcing it become “very concerned” via the Iranian flow.

“We have no longer been able to affirm any in addition info at this stage and are urgently seeking in addition statistics,” an FCO spokesperson advised Al Jazeera.
‘We do now not paintings in Iran’

The British Council is a cultural and academic enterprise with branches around the sector. Funding from the UK’s overseas office makes up approximately 15 percent of its average income.

According to the agency’s internet site, it isn’t “physically gift” in Iran.

Ciaran Devane, the British Council’s chief executive, said the employer had no longer yet “been capable of affirming” whether the unnamed woman noted with the aid of Esmaili became an employee.

“Our colleague who turned into detained remaining yr isn’t always head of ‘the Iran desk’, they worked inside the UK in a junior position to assist and exhibit the Iranian present-day artwork scene to UK audiences,” Devane stated in an assertion, without naming the colleague noted.

“The British Council does not have workplaces or representatives in Iran, and we do not do any work in Iran,” he brought.

Iranian government closes down the British Council greater than a decade in the past for what Esmaili defined as “illegal activities”.

Esmaili said that in her confession, the suspect described how she had been recruited, telling investigators about her commands from the “English safety company”.

The spokesman delivered that she became “an Iranian pupil who desired to stay and paintings inside the UK”, changed into employed through the British Council and “repeatedly traveled to Iran below aliases… And making connections with inventive and theatre organizations”.
Concerns over ‘infiltration’

Arrests of Iranians accused of espionage has improved because the Islamic Republic’s ideal chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said closing yr there had been “infiltration” via Western dealers within us of a.

The UK is presently engaged in a long-strolling effort to free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a twin British-Iranian national serving a five-12 months sentence in the Islamic Republic for alleged espionage. Iran does now not understand twin nationality.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a forty one-12 months-antique Thomson Reuters Foundation employee, was jailed in July 2016, 3 months after her preliminary arrest at Tehran airport as she became heading back to Britain.

She has often denied the sedition price leveled against her, insisting she was within the usa on her own family visit along with her daughter.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Iran has arrested at the least 14 twin or foreign nationals in view that 2014, lots of whom HRW said had been charged via courts of “cooperating with an ‘adverse country'” without sufficient proof.

“This centered marketing campaign in opposition to foreign and twin nationals sends a threatening message to Iranian expatriates and foreigners interested by working in Iran, that their understanding and knowledge are a liability in the event that they visit u. S .,” HRW’s Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whiston said in September 2018.

Turkey’s opposition wins rerun of Istanbul mayoral vote

Istanbul, Turkey – In the first-rate blow to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the competition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem Imamoglu has declared victory inside the rerun of Istanbul’s mayoral election, after preliminary outcomes showed he turned into a set for a clean win.

Imamoglu had won 54 percent of votes with almost all the ballot containers opened on Sunday, with the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) candidate trailing on forty five percent and conceding defeat.

Imamoglu promised a “new beginning” for Turkey’s largest city and commercial hub.

“You have included the popularity of democracy in Turkey,” he advised supporters.

His opponent, former Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, conceded defeat after initial consequences confirmed he was set to lose through a decisive margin.

“According to the result as of now, my competitor Ekrem Imamoglu is main the race. I congratulate him and desire him appropriate good fortune,” Yildirim stated.

CHP’s projected win within the Istanbul election ends the 17-year rule via the AK Party within the city.

The Istanbul mayoral election was first held on March 31, while Imamoglu secured 48.8 percentage of the vote, at the same time as the AK Party’s Yildirim held forty eight. Fifty-five percentage, granting Imamoglu the name of a mayor with a razor-thin margin.

The AK Party proceeded to record an “outstanding objection” to the consequences, leading the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) to annul the consequences and schedule Sunday’s rerun.
Not just a neighborhood election

The Istanbul election has come to be a way bigger than any nearby vote because the rerun put into question the united states of america’s democracy and threatened the AK Party’s grip on energy over the past two many years.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who served as Istanbul’s mayor inside the 1990s and leads the AK Party – has famously said: “Whoever loses Istanbul loses Turkey”.

Erdogan forged his vote on Sunday amid high security in Uskudar, a predominately conservative district at the town’s Asian aspect.

Berk Esen, Bilkent University assistant professor of international relations, defined it as being a “principal personal blow for Erdogan.