Iran arrests dual nationals linked to UK over protests

Iran has seen sweeping protests in recent months sparked by death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Iran arrests dual nationals linked to UK over protests

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said it had dismantled an "organized network" with links to the British intelligence agency, arresting seven people, including dual nationals.

In a statement, the IRGC’s public relations division in the southeastern province of Kerman said the seven people were "leading the protests" in the country's largest province.

Referring to the busted network as "Zagros", the statement said they acted "under the direct guidance of elements in England" and were involved in "directing subversive conspiracies" during the ongoing protests.

Iran has seen sweeping protests in recent months sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the country's morality police in mid-September.

At least 200 have died in the months-long unrest, marred by violence, according to Iranian authorities, although foreign-based human rights groups have put the number of fatalities at more than 450.

Western countries, including the UK, have imposed rafts of human rights-related sanctions on Iran, accusing Iranian officials of "repression and crackdown against anti-government protesters".

Tehran, for its part, has accused these countries of "stoking unrest" in the country in recent months through support to what it calls "riots".

"During the attack on this network, seven of its main elements and leaders inside the country who were involved in planning, directing, content production and field actions during the recent riots were arrested," the IRGC statement said.

It claimed the network, through operatives inside Iran, had "plotted to topple the government".

According to the statement, some of those arrested had "dual nationalities" and were planning to flee the country before they were apprehended.

On Monday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the arrests reflected the UK’s “destructive role” in the protests in Iran.

Asked about the arrests, ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said: "Some countries, especially the one you mentioned, had an unconstructive role regarding the recent developments in Iran.”

Previously, Iranian authorities had arrested some French nationals, accusing them of spying for French intelligence agencies. Paris, however, denied the claim.

Tensions between Tehran and Western states have spiraled since the outbreak of the countrywide protests in Iran, which are perhaps the worst the country has seen since the 1979 revolution.