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Trail for UK embassy staff in Iran
Tehran, Jul 3 (Agenc-ies):
Published on 4 Jul. 2009 12:17 AM IST
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UK embassy staff detained in Tehran and accused of inciting protests after disputed elections will face trial, a top Iranian cleric says. Guardians Council chief Ahmad Jannati said: “Naturally they will be put on trial, they have made confessions.” Nine embassy staff were held in Tehran last weekend. Britain says all but two have now been freed. EU governments are considering temporarily withdrawing ambassadors to Iran in protest at the detentions. “In these incidents, their embassy had a presence, some people were arrested,” Ayatollah Jannati told the thousands of worshippers at Friday prayers, according to news agencies revolution’ plan. After the election, the enemy could not stand people’s joy and made an effort to poison the people Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati. BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this marks a significant deterioration in the already bad relationship between London and Tehran. Ayatollah Jannati did not say how many employees would be tried or on what charges. Protests gripped Tehran and other Iranian cities after June’s presidential election, amid claims the vote had been rigged in favour of the incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Guardians Council - Iran’s supreme legislative body, which Ayatollah Jannati heads - on Monday ratified the disputed result, following a partial recount. Ayatollah Jannati said on Friday: “After the election, the enemy could not stand people’s joy. The enemy made an effort to poison the people. They had planned a velvet revolution before the election.” He said the UK Foreign Office had warned of possible “street riots” around the 12 June election and had advised its nationals to avoid public places. Tehran has repeatedly accused foreign powers - especially Britain and the US - of stoking unrest after the election. Britain has protested strongly against the arrests and rejected the Iranian allegations as baseless. 12 June presidential election saw incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 63% of vote. Main challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi called for result to be annulled for electoral fraud. Street protests saw at least 17 people killed and foreign media restricted In the fallout from the crisis, Tehran expelled two British diplomats and the UK responded with a similar measure. “We are very concerned by these reports and are investigating. Allegations that our staff were involved in fomenting unrest are wholly without foundation,” a British foreign office statement said on Friday. Five of the nine employees were reportedly released on Monday and Iranian state media said on Wednesday it had freed three more, but British and EU officials say two remain in custody. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency reported this week that one of the detainees had played a “remarkable role during the recent unrest in managing it behind the scenes”. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last month described Britain, as the “most evil” of its enemies. Meanwhile Iran has freed three more staff members of the British embassy who were detained on charges of stoking the post-election unrest, a media report said Friday. All the eight staff members of the British embassy in Tehran who were arrested on charges of fuelling the unrest after the June 12 presidential election are Iranian nationals. Immediately after the arrests, four of the detainees were freed. At present, only one staff member remains in captivity, the Mehr news said. Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei told reporters Sunday that there are films and pictures proving some of these embassy staff members were among the rioters.

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