Published: Wed, May 15, 2019

Iran: Suspect sentenced to 10 years for spying for Britain

Iran: Suspect sentenced to 10 years for spying for Britain

Mr Esmaili did not identify the woman.

Esmaili did not identify the woman, but a London-based British Council employee, Aras Amiri, was arrested previous year in Iran during a trip to visit relatives.

Esmaili said that during her confession, the suspect described how she had been recruited and provided information on "the instructions that the English security agency had given" her.

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.

It was not immediately clear if she was the person whose sentencing was announced on Monday.

What is the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case about?

Iran' judiciary says an Iranian national has been sentenced to 10 years on charges of spying for Britain. Before her detention, he said the unnamed suspect regularly visited Iran and had planned several cultural and artistic projects.

"The person was involved in contacting theatre and art groups to implement that very issue of cultural infiltration or cultural ambush".

Arrests of Iranians accused of espionage has increased since the Islamic Republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said past year there had been "infiltration" by Western agents in the country. Funding from the UK's foreign office makes up about 15 percent of its overall income.

The Council told Reuters it did not have offices or representatives in Iran, and did no work in the country.

Ms Amiri has a fiancé based in the United Kingdom, who has been unable to get a visa to visit her in Iran since her arrest.

In a statement Monday, the British Council said it had seen reports of the sentencing but said "we have not been able to confirm that this is our colleague".

The "safety and wellbeing (of colleagues) remain our first concern".

Before her arrest, the 33-year-old Amiri had been living in London for 10 years - and had worked on cultural exchanges between Britain and Iran that included cooperation with Iran's Ministry of Culture.

"We are a non-political organisation committed to people-to-people engagement and our staff are not connected to any espionage agency", Ciaran added.

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