Britain summons Iranian ambassador as countries voice concern over Tehran envoy arrest

Britain summons Iranian ambassador as countries voice concern over Tehran envoy arrest

Britain summons Iranian ambassador as countries voice concern over Tehran envoy arrest (1)
Iranian demonstrators hold placards bearing the image of slain military commander Qasem Soleimani in front of the British embassy in the capital Tehran on Jan 12, 2020 following the British ambassador's arrest for allegedly attending an illegal demonstration. (Photo: AFP /ATTA KENARE)

LONDON: Britain has summoned the Iranian ambassador for a meeting to protest the detention of London's envoy to Tehran on Saturday (Jan 11), the government said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's official spokesman told reporters on Monday that the government would convey its "strong objections" about the arrest, calling it an "unacceptable breach" of diplomatic protocol.

British ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested in Iran on Saturday shortly after he left a vigil for the passengers of a downed civilian airliner that turned into a protest.

Robert Macaire
British ambassador Rob Macaire was arrested in Iran on Jan 11, 2020 shortly after he left a vigil for the air disaster victims that turned into a protest. (Photo: gov.uk)

Iran confirmed earlier on Sunday that it briefly arrested Mr Macaire for attending an "illegal gathering" - a charge he has denied.

Iran's Mehr news agency also said that Mr 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, adding he had been detained for half an hour.


"Normal to want to pay respects - some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting," he said.

"Arresting diplomats is of course illegal, in all countries," he added.

The British government said Macaire was arrested and detained briefly in the Iranian capital in what it called a "flagrant violation of international law".

Authorities in Tehran have yet to make any statements about the incident.

COUNTRIES VOICE CONCERN OVER ARREST

Canada and several other countries with nationals killed in the shootdown called on Tehran on Sunday to abide by its international commitments after Iranian authorities briefly arrested the Mr Macaire.

"We call on Iran to uphold the Vienna Convention," Canada's foreign ministry said, referring to a 1961 international treaty that sets out protections from harassment for foreign diplomats.

Canada issued the statement after a call among representatives of countries whose citizens were among the 176 people killed when a Ukrainian airliner was hit by an Iranian missile on Jan 8.

The group formed by Canada in the wake of the disaster includes Britain, Ukraine, Sweden and Afghanistan.

"All countries on the call noted their concern that the British ambassador to Tehran was temporarily detained by Iranian officials following his attendance at a vigil for the victims of flight PS752," the statement said.

The European Union and France criticized Tehran for the arrest as well.

On Saturday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was "outraged and furious" over the shootdown, demanding a full investigation and for Tehran to assume responsibility for the tragedy, including financial compensation.

Britain summons Iranian ambassador as countries voice concern over Tehran envoy arrest (1)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a memorial service for the victims of the Ukrainian Airlines flight PS752 crash in Iran at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton on Jan 12, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Walter Tychnowicz)

Iran's leaders admitted on Saturday that Iranian forces accidentally shot down the airliner after mistaking it for a cruise missile.

Source: AFP/ic

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