UK ambassador briefly detained in Tehran denies involvement in anti-government protests: Report

The Islamic Republic of Iran appears bent on provoking an international incident, as evidenced by its stunning incompetence mixed with ideological malice, what with its bungled missile salvo into Iraq, the shootdown of a Ukrainian passenger jet, and now the arrest of a high-level foreign diplomat in Tehran.

Breitbart reported that Iranian authorities arrested and temporarily detained the British ambassador to that nation after he was accused of being involved in anti-regime protests that broke out on Saturday, an allegation he denied. Needless to say, the U.K. is none too pleased with the treatment its representative received.

Ambassador arrested

Iran somewhat surprisingly accepted responsibility on Friday for having “unintentionally” shot down the Ukrainian airliner — killing all 176 passengers and crew — in the immediate aftermath of its ineffectual missile strikes in Iraq that came in response to the U.S. airstrike days earlier that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Thousands of Iranian people, incensed at initially being lied to about the cause of the deadly airliner crash, took to the streets in protest of the government and in mourning of those lost in the tragedy.

The U.K.’s ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, joined the people on the streets for what he thought was a vigil for the victims, though he left the scene once it became clear that the event was more of a protest than a memorial, The Guardian reported.

Macaire was nonetheless arrested shortly thereafter and accused by some of not only being involved in the protests — which would be in violation of international law — but also of potentially even helping in the planning and coordination of them. He was, however, released a short time later once it was realized by higher-ups — no doubt cognizant of the possible repercussions — exactly who had been arrested.

Macaire explains

In a two-part tweet posted early on Sunday, Macaire wrote, “Thanks for the many goodwill messages. Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS752 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects–some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some started chanting.”

He added, “Detained half an hour after leaving the area. Arresting diplomats is of course illegal, in all countries. See comments by Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab.”

Attached to that tweet was a link to the aforementioned official statement from Raab, which read: “The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law. The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”

The Guardian noted that in addition to the stern statement from the foreign secretary, the Iranian actions involving the diplomat were also condemned by a number of other top British and European officials, including U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

All eyes on Iran

It remains to be seen if anything further will come of this diplomatic row, or if tensions will calm in the coming days. It is worth noting that Macaire has been officially summoned by the Iranian foreign ministry to explain himself, and there are some within Iran’s regime who are demanding the ambassador be expelled from the country.

There is significant pressure on Iran right now, both from within and without, over a number of different issues, and screw-ups like this. Arresting a diplomat and accusing him of international crimes will only serve to make that the scrutiny that much more intense.

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