Despite Britain’s effort to not burn bridges with Tehran, Iran continues to mess up the equation between both the countries. Things have been going sour since Tehran went against its promise and delivered the supertanker to Syria calling it a simple business transaction.
However, Britain has been left quite embarrassed. It is even more irritating as random instances of British Iranian dual nationals being picked up by the Iranian government have increased over the last few weeks.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 over charges of spying and since then, her case has seen no progress. She has been detained since September 2016 and sentenced to five year’s rigorous imprisonment for spreading malicious propaganda against the Iranian government. The prosecutor general of Tehran had stated in October 2017 that she was being held for running “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran.”
In another incident, three more Australian citizens who also hold British passports were held by Iran, on suspected allegations of spying and espionage. All have been imprisoned and detained without any fair trial.
Others to be arrested include Kameel Ahmady, an Iranian-British social anthropologist, Anousheh Ashouri– a businessman, and Aras Amiri- a British council employee.
Ahmady was arrested on 11 August and had no contact with his family except three phone calls. Around 10 days later, Ashouri was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment after being imprisoned since 2017. He was accused of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency and receiving €33,000 (£29,000) in illicit funds.
Strangely, while Iran has been detaining its own citizens holding dual passports, it has now started targeting individuals of dual nationality from other countries as well. Political analysts believe this is Iran’s way of curbing free speech and severing any indicated intent of working against the Iranian government.
Media reports have confirmed that there has been a general crackdown against both Iranian journalists and human rights activists on orders of the judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, appointed in March 2019. The arrests have been the subject of public protest by reformist MPs. It seems Iran’s reaction has been coming against nations that are trying to side with the US over the skirmish that has put the whole world on tenterhooks, especially when it comes to the 2015 Nuclear Deal.