A British Council employee and a dual British-Iranian national have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms on security and spying charges by Iran.

Aras Amiri, an Iranian national and British Council worker who had been living in London, was arrested in 2018 during a trip to Iran to visit relatives. A judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday that an appeals court had upheld a 10-year jail sentence against her.

The spokesman identified a second convicted woman as Anousheh Ashouri, a dual British-Iranian national. She was sentenced to 12 years for ties to Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

The spokesman said a man, Ali Johari, had also been given a 12-year sentence. Johari allegedly passed on information about construction projects by a Revolutionary Guards-affiliated construction conglomerate, Khatam al-Anbia.

Britain said it was supporting Ashouri’s family and that the UK embassy in Tehran was continuing to request consular access. “The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and we raise their cases at the most senior levels,” a Foreign Office spokesman said in a statement. “We urge Iran to let them be reunited with their families.”

The verdicts came amid tensions between Iran and US ally Britain over the seizure of oil tankers in recent weeks.

An Iranian tanker was seized off the British overseas territory of Gibraltar on 4 July on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.

That vessel has been released but Iran continues to hold a British-flagged tanker it seized in the Gulf on 19 July for breaking “international maritime rules”.

Tensions had already been strained between the two countries over the fate of the British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested by Iranian authorities in 2016 as she was leaving Tehran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was put on trial and is serving a five-year jail sentence for allegedly trying to topple the Iranian government.

Source » theguardian