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Differences with London over Tehran’s Human Rights Record | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin Zaghari and their daughter Gabriella. AP

London- Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly rejected recent remarks by a British Foreign Office official against the Islamic Republic’s human rights record, calling the comments “provocative.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi on Wednesday reacted to recent remarks delivered at the House of Lords by Joyce Anelay, the British Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Anelay had voiced “concerns” about the family of the British-Iranian Nazanin Zaqari, who has been convicted of inciting post-election unrest in Iran in 2009.

Zaqari was arrested at the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran in 2016.

The detainee, a project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was then transferred to Kerman, found guilty of endangering Iran’s national security, and sentenced to five years in prison.

Iranian Judiciary officials said her sentence was upheld on Sunday.

Qassemi called Anelay’s remarks “incorrect, injudicious, provocative and an instance of interference.”

“We condemn the inaccurate remarks of Anelay, which she attained from inauthentic sources on Iran’s human rights issues,” the spokesman said.

He went on to say that such remarks by top British officials will damage the expansion of Tehran-London ties.

He warned against the use of the human rights issue to exert pressure on independent countries.

The Iranian official said it was surprising and regrettable that Britain, with a bleak rights record, was preaching human rights to other countries.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry official also said that the Iranian Judiciary was an independent government branch.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has raised concerns with Iran’s president over several cases involving dual British-Iranian nationals in September, including imprisoned aid worker Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

During a telephone call, the PM and Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani agreed their two countries should seek to advance relations.

“The prime minister raised concerns about a number of consular cases involving dual nationals, including that of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and she stressed the importance of resolving these cases as we worked to strengthen our diplomatic relationship,” a spokeswoman for May’s office said.