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Aras Amiri: Family launch petition and Iranian judiciary confirm 'spying' sentence on state TV

PUBLISHED: 19:02 30 August 2019

Aras Amiri. Picture: Courtesy of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran

Aras Amiri. Picture: Courtesy of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran

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After reports Aras Amiri had been sentenced to ten years in Iranian prison, a member of the regime confirmed that the Crouch End woman - and two men - had been jailed on spying charges.

Aras Amiri. Picture: Courtesy of the Centre for Human Rights in IranAras Amiri. Picture: Courtesy of the Centre for Human Rights in Iran

The family of Aras - an Iranian national who lived in the UK and worked for the British Council - has also set up a petition calling for her release which it calls an "unjust abuse of power".

A spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, Gholamhossein Esmaili, said in remarks broadcast on state TV that the convicted woman was Ms Amiri, and claimed her work for the British Council was in fact cover for spying on cultural activities in Iran.

The two men also jailed were named as Anoush Ashoori, a dual British-Iranian national, and Ali Johari.

The British Council is a non-political organisation that works in education, arts and culture.

Aras has been held in the same ward of Tehran's Evin prison as West Hampstead's Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe - who has now been in prison more than 1,200 days.

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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week agreed to meet Nazanin's husband Richard Ratcliffe for the first time since taking the position in July.

Ms Amiri has been jailed for the past year while her case was under investigation and she was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The petition states: "Aras has made a significant contribution both to UK and Iranian arts and culture in presenting the extraordinary work of Iranian artists working across cinema, music, literature, theatre and visual arts.

"She has enabled UK audiences to better understand the unique and outstanding achievements of Iranian art and culture and the complex and long history between both Iran and the UK."

Last week her fiance James Tyson - who also works for the British Council spoke to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire Show and the Guardian about Aras' case.

He told the BBC: "As much as one can try to work within the official channels, one knows that actually we're dealing with a situation about the impression that Iran wants to make to the UK, the pressure they want to put on the UK.

"And using Aras in this way as a bargaining chip or hostage of some kind to try get what they want, some advantage in their relationships with the UK."

Additional reporting by PA.

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