Iran Says It Detained Britain's Second Most Senior Envoy for 'Spying'

Iranian media says several foreigners were arrested for acts of spying ■ The U.K. foreign office says the reports are completely false

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The flags of Iran flying in the capital, Tehran, on Monday.
The flags of Iran flying in the capital, Tehran, on Monday.Credit: ATTA KENARE - AFP

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have detained several foreigners, including Britain's second most senior envoy in Tehran, for alleged acts of spying such as taking soil samples in restricted areas, state television reported on Wednesday.

The U.K. foreign office said in response that the Iranian media reports were completely false, and that no British official had been arrested for alleged espionage.

Iran did not say whether those it accused of spying remained under arrest.

Iranian TV showed footage of Deputy British Ambassador Giles Whitaker and his family in central Iran, appearing to be collecting ground samples, and said he was "removed from the area after apologizing." Other reports said he was to be deported.

Iranian television also claimed that among the detainees is the husband of Austria's cultural attaché, as well as Maciej Walczak, a Polish university lecturer in Iran as a tourist.

"These spies were taking earth samples in Iran's central desert where the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace missile exercises were conducted," state TV said.

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