UK ambassador returns to Iran despite brief arrest last month

Britain’s Ambassador to Iran, Robert Macaire, has today returned to Tehran, the diplomat announced in a video posted online. The ambassador initially left the Islamic Republic after a brief detention by security forces last month.

Macaire said “I recently returned from London to Tehran. This was an important trip that was planned some time ago”, the diplomat added that he had met with Foreign Minister Dominic Raab and other top officials during his trip.

The UK ambassador was arrested and briefly detained in Tehran for attending what he believed to be a vigil for victims of Ukrainian Airliner PS752, which was shot down by the Iranian military on 8 January, killing all 176 on board.

Iranian authorities termed the vigil an illegal demonstration amid public anger over the government’s delayed admission that the military had shot down the airliner.

The accident, initially reported as a crash, was later revealed to have been caused by a mistake from a Revolutionary Guard soldier who fired two anti-aircraft missiles at the doomed flight.

Iranian President Rouhani tweeted on 11 January, officially acknowledging the mistake, that “Armed Forces’ internal investigation has concluded that regrettably missiles fired due to human error caused the horrific crash of the Ukrainian plane and death of 176 innocent people.”

The alleged vigil took place on 11 January and was attended by Macaire “to pay respects” as “some of the victims were British”. The ambassador reported, via Twitter, that he “left after 5 mins, when some [people] started chanting”.

The Iranian deputy foreign minister said Macaire was “arrested as [an] unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering” and was speedily released once his identity was confirmed.

However, the detention sparked international condemnation with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab calling the arrest of Macaire “without grounds or explanation… a flagrant violation of international law”.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both condemned the detention in statements released on 12 January.

The accidental shoot down of the Ukrainian airliner took place a few hours after Iran launched a missile attack on Iraqi military bases housing US troops as retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani by American forces on 3 January.

Source » middleeastmonitor

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