Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has arrested several foreigners, including Britain’s second-in-command in Tehran, for alleged acts of espionage such as taking soil samples in restricted areas. The news was reported by Reuters on Wednesday, quoting information from Iranian state television. A Polish national was also said to be among those detained.
“These spies were taking soil samples in Iran’s central desert, where the Revolutionary Guard’s airborne missile drills were taking place,” the state television reported.
What does the footage show?
Iranian television showed footage showing Giles Whitaker and his family in central Iran, where a British diplomat appeared to be taking soil samples. As the TV station reported, this was near an area where missile tests were taking place.
The footage also showed a person, identified as Maciej Walczak, a university professor in Poland who was visiting Iran as a tourist, according to Iranian TV. The TV report used footage allegedly showing Maciej Walczak and three colleagues collecting soil samples. According to TV, the sample collection coincided with a missile test in the southern province of Kerman.
Another foreigner arrested was identified by state television as the husband of the Austrian cultural attaché in Iran.
It was not specified whether the detainees were still in custody. The UK authorities described the reports from the Iranian side as “completely false”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has arrested dozens of dual nationals and foreigners in recent years, mainly on charges of espionage and for security reasons, Reuters recalls.
Human rights organisations accuse the Islamic Republic of trying to extort concessions from other countries by making arrests on unsubstantiated security charges. The authorities there deny that they are arresting people for political reasons.