Thursday, 29 October 2009

FCO: Embassy employee in Iran sentenced to 4 years

28 Oct 2009

David Miliband expressed deep concern following reports that Hossein Rassam has been sentenced to four years in prison following his arrest in June.

Hossein Rassam, who is a political advisor at the embassy, was arrested following the disputed Presidential elections in Iran in June 2009.
In a statement, David Miliband said:

'Reports that Hossein Rassam has been sentenced to four years in prison are deeply concerning. Such a decision is wholly unjustified and represents further harassment of Embassy staff for going about their normal and legitimate duties.

Our Ambassador in Tehran has spoken to the Deputy Foreign Minister to express our concerns and our acting Permanent Under Secretary has called in the Iranian Ambassador in London. We understand the sentence can be appealed. I urge the authorities to conduct this quickly and overturn this harsh sentence. We are in close touch with EU and other international partners, who continue to show solidarity in the face of this unacceptable Iranian action. This will be seen as an attack against the entire diplomatic community in Iran and important principles are at stake.'

French Foreign Ministry have also condemned the sentencing. A spokesperson said:

'We note with great concern the sentencing of Hossein Rassam, an employee of the British Embassy in Tehran and we express our full solidarity with the UK. We consider any action taken against a member state of the EU, whether a citizen or employee, to be an action against the EU as a whole.

France considers the sentencing of Hossein Rassam to be unjustified. France strongly recommends that appeals to this sentence should be considered without delay in order that the sentence be changed. Furthermore, France expects the Iranian justice system to confirm the innocence of Clotilde Reisse, along with the other locally employed staff of the French and British embassies.

'An EU Presidency statement also expressed "deep concern" for Hossein Rassam and said the sentence was "unjustified and harsh".

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