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UK ambassador held in Iran, freed after identification Was held during demonstrations against regime, says Tehran

UK ambassador held in Iran, freed after identification

Protesters burn a Union Jack in front of the British embassy in Tehran on Sunday. AFP

Tehran-Iran’s deputy foreign minister said on Sunday that Britain’s ambassador to Tehran, Rob Macaire, was arrested as a foreigner at “an illegal gathering” but was freed soon after being identified.

“He wasn’t detained, but arrested as unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering,” Seyed Abbas Araghchi tweeted, adding Macaire was released 15 minutes after he called the British diplomat to confirm his identity.

The Iranian authorities earlier said he was reportedly arrested during protests against the regime.

The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law,” Raab said in a statement after the detention of Rob Macaire.

The minister warned Iran that it was “at a cross-roads moment”, and had to choose between “its march towards pariah status” or “take steps to de-escalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.” Macaire was arrested for allegedly “inciting” protesters in Tehran angry at the military’s accidental downing of a Ukranian passenger jet, killing 176 people, most of them Iranian citizens, according to the Daily Mail. He was released after around an hour, it added.

‘Wasn’t attending any protest’

Tehran: Britain’s ambassador to Tehran denied that he took part in a demonstration that broke out at a memorial for the 176 people killed when a plane was shot down. Iran’s Mehr news agency said the ambassador, Rob Macaire, was arrested for his alleged “involvement in provoking suspicious acts” at the gathering in front of the university. “Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy,” Macaire said on Twitter.

EU calls for de-escalation Brussels: The EU’s diplomatic chief criticised Iran for briefly detaining the British ambassador to Tehran. “Very concerned about the temporary detention of the UK Ambassador @HMATehran in Iran. Full respect of the Vienna convention is a must,” Josep Borrell tweeted.