Home NEWS Ambassador to Iran returns to UK after being arrested at protest

Ambassador to Iran returns to UK after being arrested at protest

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The UK’s ambassador to Iran has returned to London to continue talks with ministers, as protesters burned an effigy of the official in the streets.

Rob Macaire, who was arrested and briefly detained on Saturday in Tehran, has been branded ‘persona non grata’ by Iran’s judiciary.

According to local reports, spokesman Gholam Hossein Esmaeili said the ambassador had not respected the nation’s laws and called for his expulsion.

He said: ‘Under international law, such a person is a ‘persona non grata’.

‘The (Iranian) people expect the person to be expelled and that is also what international law calls for.’

However, the Foreign Office has insisted that Mr Macaire will be returning to Tehran and his visit is nothing more than a routine trip to brief Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Mr Macaire was arrested shortly after attending a vigil for 176 people, including four Britons, who were killed on a Ukrainian plane accidentally gunned down by Iranian officials.

The weekend vigil soon turned into a protest but Mr Macaire insists he left after five minutes when demonstrators started chanting.

As Mr Macaire left for London, anti-UK protests broke out in front of the British Embassy, while an effigy of the official could be seen burning in front of the University of Tehran, where numerous victims had studied.

A Foreign Office spokesman said on Wednesday: ‘Ambassador Rob Macaire is returning to the UK today on a long-planned visit.

‘He will have a number of meetings while in the UK and this is very much business as usual. He will be returning to Iran in the coming days.’

The latest developments come after the UK, France and Germany began action against Iran over its failure to comply with the terms of the nuclear deal.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested President Donald Trump could produce an alternative nuclear deal after the current accord was undermined by the US withdrawal from it.

The US president responded on Twitter, saying he agreed that a ‘Trump deal’ was the way forward – although so far Washington has yet to produce any alternative to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement.

Mr Macaire’s return comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and Iran, after President Donald Trump’s killing of Revolutionary Guard General Qasem Soleimani in an American airstrike in Baghdad.

Iranian officials then shot down the Ukrainian plane while it was bracing for possible US retaliation, after it had had launched a ballistic missile attack on two military bases housing American troops in Iraq.

Although no one was hurt in the US military base attack carried out to avenge Mr Trump’s killing, Iran was preparing for the worst when it devastatingly shot down the plane by accident.

On Tuesday, Iran’s judiciary said arrests had been made over the shooting but did not say how many.

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