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Iran blames UK’s ‘destructive role’ after IRGC arrests protesters

Iran’s foreign ministry has said that the arrests of citizens linked to the United Kingdom showed London’s “destructive role” in the recent protests in the country.

Asked by a reporter to comment on the announcement in Tehran of the arrest of seven people linked to Britain, foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday: “Some countries, especially the one you mentioned, had an unconstructive role regarding the recent developments in Iran.

“Their role was totally destructive and incited the riots”. 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Sunday that the seven, including some who held dual nationality, were arrested over anti-government protests that have rocked the country.

The group, which IRNA news agency described as an “organised network”, had been “leading subversive conspiracies, especially during the recent riots”, the report quoted a Guards statement as saying.

The seven arrested in Kerman province “have been involved in planning, leading and producing content as well as field actions in the recent riots”, it added.

The British foreign ministry had said it was seeking further information from Iranian authorities on the reports that British-Iranian dual nationals had been arrested.

Kanaani said Tehran had notified the detainees’ respective governments and had “communicated their crimes” to them.

For “humanitarian reasons”, he said, the detainees had been allowed to contact their families over the Christmas holidays.

READ MORE: Iran sanctions EU, UK officials for ‘supporting terrorism’

Blaming outside ‘enemies’

Tehran blames foreign enemies and their agents for orchestrating the protests, which have turned into a popular revolt by Iranians, becoming one of the biggest unrest in the country since 2019.

It has also taken increasingly aggressive steps against dual nationals, arresting dozens since the unrest began. Such moves have brought more international condemnation and isolated the country.

Rights group HRANA said that as of Sunday, 507 protesters had been killed, including 69 minors. It said 66 members of the security forces had also been killed.

As many as 18,516 protesters are believed to have been arrested, it said. At least 40 of those who have been arrested are foreigners, including dual nationals.

Kanaani said the files of some of the detainees had been completed, while those of others were still being investigated. 

READ MORE: Protest-hit Iran arrests lawyer of jailed journalists

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