Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iran 'arrests UK embassy staff'

Guardian UK

Iranian media reported today that authorities have detained eight local employees of the British embassy in Tehran for what is described as their alleged role in post-election protests.

The reports by state-run TV and the semi-official Fars news agency provided no further details and could not be verified independently.

Iran's rulers have accused the west of stoking unrest following a bitterly disputed June 12 presidential election, singling out Britain and the US for alleged meddling.

Last week, Iran expelled two British diplomats, prompting the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats from Britain.

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi alleges massive fraud in the presidential election, saying he is the rightful winner, not President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Today's arrests come after a senior Iranian cleric, Ahmed Khatami, on Friday lashed out at Britain in a nationally televised sermon. "In this unrest, Britons have behaved very mischievously and it is fair to add the slogan of 'down with England' to the slogan of 'down with USA,'" he said.

The US and Europe have become increasingly vocal about their condemnation of Iran's harsh crackdown. Iran's leaders have pushed back with angry rhetoric, and the confrontation appears to be dashing any hopes for a new dialogue, as initially envisioned by President Barack Obama when he took office.

Despite the clampdown, Mousavi signaled today he is not dropping his political challenge. In a new statement, he insisted on a repeat of the election and rejected a partial recount being proposed by the government. Still,

Mousavi's challenge seemed largely aimed at maintaining some role as an opposition figure..............

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