TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran on Sunday released on bail a British embassy staffer, who was among a group of nine arrested following disturbances after the hotly disputed June 12 presidential election, his lawyer said.
“He just got released. He is fine and seems not to be having any problem,” the lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, told AFP by telephone from the precincts of Evin prison where Hossein Rassam was held.
“Bail of one billion rials (100,000 dollars) has been paid” to free Rassam, the lawyer told AFP.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband welcomed the release but reiterated his insistence that the detention of the embassy staffers was “completely unjustified.”
“I am very glad Hossein Rassam has been released,” Miliband said in a statement.
“The release of all of our staff has remained an important priority throughout the past three weeks, and has required intensive discussions with the Iranian authorities.
“This has included my conversations with Foreign Minister (Manouchehr) Mottaki, who has with his deputy, kept us informed of developments.”
He added: “The detention of embassy staff was completely unjustified: I am confident that none of them were involved in any improper behaviour.”
Rassam, a senior political analyst at the British embassy, was arrested on June 27, along with eight other embassy staffers who have since been released.
“I haven’t seen his file yet but… as far as I know he has been charged with action against national security, I do not have anything in detail to say until I read the file,” Khoramshahi said.
Iran has repeatedly accused the West, and Britain in particular, of stoking unrest following the disputed June election.
Tehran has expelled two British diplomats and London has retaliated with tit-for-tat expulsions.
The arrest of the embassy staff strained already tense ties between Tehran and London.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had warned Iran that the European Union was ready to act collectively in response to the arrests and received expressions of solidarity from fellow members of the 27-nation bloc.
“The Iranian regime must be clear that if this action continues and we are forced to act, we will act together with our European partners,” Brown said on July 6.