Middle East

Anoosheh Ashoori: Iran jails British national for 10 years on spying charges

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A UK national of Iranian origin has been sentenced to 12 years in jail on spying allegations. 

Anoosheh Ashoori, a British-Iranian dual national, was accused of passing intelligence to Israel’s spy agency, according to Iran’s judiciary, which is dominated by hardline clerics and jurists. 

Two others, including a UK resident, were punished on similar charges, as Iran’s hardline national security establishment continued its drive to target dual nationals.

“Anoosheh Ashoori had been connected to the Mossad and had relayed a lot of intelligence to that country,” judiciary spokesperson Gholamhossein Esmaeili told reporters during a weekly briefing, according to the Tasnim news agency.

“[Mr Ashoori] has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for spying and two years for illicitly acquiring money.”

Despite earlier reports that Iran had arrested a British woman, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed to The Independent that it was a man who had been detained. 

The office said that it has been following Mr Ashoori’s case since his arrest in Tehran two years ago. Iran does not recognise dual nationality and has declined to give Mr Ashoori consular access or update UK officials on his case.  

“We have been supporting the family of a British-Iranian dual national since his detention and our embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access,” said an FCO spokesperson. 

Mr Esmaeili confirmed the conviction last week of Aras Amiri, an Iranian employee of the British Council and student of philosophy at London’s Kingston University, on allegations of spying for the UK. He has also announced the conviction of Ali Johari, also on charges of spying for Israel. 

Ms Amiri, who rejected the charges in a letter to the judiciary chief, has been sentenced to jail for 10 years. 

Iran has targeted numerous dual nationals, including British Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and French scholar Fariba Adelkhah. Like Ms Amiri, they are often grabbed by shadowy elements within the security forces during visits home from the west. 

The FCO spokesperson urged Iran to release the UK nationals, saying: “The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and we raise their cases at the most senior levels.”

Mr Esmaeili said Mr Johari, also sentenced to a decade in prison, had been spying for Israel for years and had met alleged Mossad operatives in Asia, handing over intelligence about the Revolutionary Guard’s Khatam al-Anbia construction and development arm.

Iran said in July that it had captured 17 spies working for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some had been sentenced to death.

It was unclear whether Tuesday’s announcement was linked to the same case. 

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