HomeWorld NewsIran TV says several foreigners, British diplomat, arrested for alleged espionage

Iran TV says several foreigners, British diplomat, arrested for alleged espionage

The Iranian flag is pictured in front of the Iranian Foreign Ministry building in Tehran November 23, 2009. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

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DUBAI, July 6 (Reuters) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrested several foreigners, including Britain’s second representative in Tehran, for alleged acts of espionage such as taking soil samples from restricted areas, reported Wednesday on state television.

He did not say when they were arrested or whether they were still under arrest. Britain said the reports were “completely false”.

“These spies were taking soil samples from Iran’s central desert where the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace missile drills were taking place,” state television said.

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Iranian state television showed what it said was footage of Giles Whitaker and his family in central Iran where the British diplomat appeared to be taking soil samples. The television said it was near an area that a missile test was taking place by the guards.

“Whitaker was kicked out of town after issuing an apology (to authorities),” the TV report said.

However, a UK Foreign Office spokesman said: “The reports of the arrest of a British diplomat in Iran are completely false.” Read more

Samuel Heath, UK Spokesperson in the US, tweeted: “He (Whitaker) isn’t even stationed in Iran anymore!”

One of those arrested was identified by state television as the husband of the Austrian cultural attache in Iran. Austrian officials were not immediately available to comment on the matter.

Television also showed a photo of a third foreigner, identified as Maciej Walczak, a university professor in Poland, who she said was visiting Iran as a tourist.

The TV report aired footage allegedly showing Walczak and three colleagues collecting soil samples in another region after visiting Iran as part of a science exchange program. He said their sample collection also coincided with a missile test in Kerman province in southern Iran.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, mostly on espionage and security charges.

Rights groups have accused the Islamic Republic of trying to extract concessions from other countries through arrests on what may have been fabricated security charges. Tehran denies arresting people for political reasons.

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Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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