Aras Amiri: 'Dismay' as Crouch End woman loses appeal over 10 year 'spying' sentence
PUBLISHED: 14:36 20 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 20 August 2019
Crouch End woman Aras Amiri has lost her appeal against a ten-year prison sentence imposed by the Iranian authorities.
Ms Amiri, who was not even allowed to attend the appeal and was just informed of its result, was arrested last March on "trumped-up" spying charges.
Like Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Ms Amiri had been on holiday visiting family when she was detained.
Her MP, Catherine West (Lab, Hornsey and Wood Green) hit out at the news.
She told this newspaper: "I'm desperately sad that my constituent Aras Amiri, an innocent employee of the British Council, has had her appeal rejected.
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"Iran is increasingly pursuing a policy of imprisoning innocent employees of legitimate institutions to use as diplomatic leverage, a hostage diplomacy that we've also seen in the ongoing appalling case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe."
Sir Ciarán Devane, the chief exec of the British Council, for whom Aras worked before her incarceration, shared her dismay. He told this paper; "Further to reports, we would like to express our deep disappointment and dismay that our colleague Aras Amiri has had her appeal against her ten-year sentence rejected by the Iranian authorities.
"We remain extremely concerned for Aras' safety and wellbeing and continue to refute the accusation levied against her."
Richard Ratcliffe, whose wife Nazanin remains in the same ward of Evin Prison in Tehran with Ms Amiri also expressed his anger at the continued "hostage diplomacy" of the Iranian regime - in both the two women's cases and others which have not been made public.
He said: "They are showing they are in charge. It's been a pretty volatile atmosphere in the ward, with lots of new political prisoners and the bad news about Aras."
Catherine West also said she had met the previous foreign office administration about Ms Amiri and would soon be meeting with the new foreign secretary. She added: "It's crucial that the UK Government does everything in its power to help bring Aras home."
Ms Amiri is a British resident. She does not have UK citizenship but would have qualified for it.