Guards stepping up detentions amid likely US imposition of sweeping sanctions
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have seized more dual nationals and foreign permanent residents.
The latest detentions include Anglo-Iranian commentator Mahan Abedin, detained earlier this week, and UK permanent resident Aras Amiri, a British Council employee who was imprisoned on March 14 as she visited her ailing grandmother in Tehran.
On April 15, the Guards arrested Anglo-Iranian Abbas Edalat, a professor at Imperial College London who was attending an academic seminar in Tehran.
Seeking both leverage against other groups within the regime and a message to foreign states amid uncertainty about the July 2015 nuclear deal, the Guards and their allies have now put more than 30 dual nationals behind bars. They include two other UK citizens, charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and businessman Kamal Foroughi.
Amiri’s cousin Mohsen Omrani confirmed the British Council employee’s arrest on Wednesday: “Aras has been jailed by forces belonging to Iran’s ministry of intelligence. They arrested her before the Eid [Iranian New Year on March 20] and it’s now nearly 50 days that she is being kept in Evin Prison’s Ward 209.”
Omrani said Amiri has been accused of colluding and acting against national security, a vague charge used to hold many domestic activists, journalists, and students as well as foreign nationals.
Amiri, who has lived in London for 10 years, is also studying for a postgraduate degree in Philosophy of Art at Kingston University. At the Council, she helped arrange film festivals and cultural exchanges, in cooperation with the artistic department of [Iran’s] Cultural Ministry.
The UK Foreign Office said on Wednesday that it is “urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities” about the arrest of Abedin.
Michael Dwyer of Hurst Publishers said they were worried that their author might have run into trouble during his visit to Tehran: “While we heard from Mahan by email on Monday, we have no way of verifying that his messages are genuine, and his long radio silence till then had puzzled us, given the recent arrest of other British citizens of Iranian descent.”
BBC Persian Staff Call for End to Detentions & Harassment
On World Press Freedom Day, staff of BBC Persian call for an end to Iran’s detention and harassment of journalists, including the outlet’s staff.
BBC Persian reporters have spoken of threats by Iranian officials against their families, attempted blackmail including over sexual conduct, interrogation of relatives, seizure of property, and warnings that they should not try to enter Iran.
Making life difficult for our parents/siblings to get back at us was a new low for Iran’s Intelligence agencies. We put together this video in Persian w/ English subtitles to once again raise our voice against these illegal actions and repeat the obvious: #JournalismIsNotaCrime. pic.twitter.com/HK1CwPnYjC
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) May 3, 2018
FM Zarif’s Video: We Will Not Renegotiate Nuclear Deal
A week before Donald Trump’s decision on whether to impose sweeping US sanctions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has repeated that Iran will not consider revision of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“Iran will not renegotiate what was agreed years ago and has been implemented,” Zarif said in a video message. “Let me make it clear absolutely and once for all: we will neither outsource our security, nor will we renegotiate or add on to a deal we have already implemented in good faith.”
The European Union and European signatories to the deal have proposed alterations of the deal, including extension of time limits, and a separate agreement on Iran’s ballistic missiles to avert a breakdown.
Trump has until May 12 to decide on a renewal of the waiver of sweeping Congressional sanctions. He is widely expected to let the waiver lapse.
Iran has indicated that it will quickly resume enrichment of 20% uranium — which it gave up under the agreement — if the US imposed the sweeping sanctions.