British Council worker, an Iranian woman, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for “spying.”
“An Iranian citizen in charge of the Iran desk at the British Council was cooperating with English spying agencies,” the judiciary’s website, Mizan Online, reports.
Esmaili added that the suspect, who had been tasked with drawing up and managing cultural “infiltration” projects, had been arrested by Iranian intelligence and security agencies “more than a year ago”.
The United Kingdom’s foreign ministry voiced concern over the sentence.
“We are very concerned by reports that an Iranian British Council employee has been sentenced to jail on charges of espionage,” a spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told AFP.
“British Embassy officials in Tehran are in touch with the Iranian government to seek further information.”
The British Council is a cultural and educational organisation with branches around the world, but according to its website it is not “physically present” in Iran.
Iranian authorities shut down the British Council more than a decade ago for what Esmaili described as “illegal activities”.
Esmaili said that during her confession, the suspect described how she had been recruited, telling investigators about the instructions she had been given by “the English security agency”.
The spokesman said that she was “an Iranian student who wanted to live and work in the UK”, was hired by the British Council and “repeatedly travelled to Iran under aliases… and made connections with artistic and theatre groups”.