January 23, 2021

Iran plane crash: UK ambassador arrested in Tehran

The UK’s ambassador to Iran was arrested in Tehran as protesters took to the streets after the country admitted that it shot down a passenger plane by mistake.

Rob Macaire was held for three hours, in what the UK described as a “flagrant violation of international law”.

It is understood he was attending a vigil for those who died in the crash, which turned into a protest.

He was arrested while on his way back to the UK embassy.

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Earlier, the Prime Minister said Iran’s admission was an “important first step” and called for an investigation into the “tragic accident”.

Iran has now admitted Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 was shot down due to “human error”.

The Iranian Etemad newspaper shared a picture of the ambassador on Twitter after the Tasnim news agency reported his arrest.

Iranian media claimed Mr Macaire was accused of inciting anti-government protests.

In a statement, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The arrest of our Ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law.

“The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”

There were demonstrations in Tehran and other cities on Saturday as people gathered to commemorate those who died in the downing of the Ukrainian plane.

Missile strikes

Iran initially denied responsibility for Wednesday’s crash – which killed 176 people, including four Britons.

But on Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani admitted Iranian military had “unintentionally” shot down the passenger plane after mistaking it for a cruise missile when it turned towards a sensitive military site.

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