UK’s ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire has been summoned to Iran’s foreign ministry offices on allegations that he participated in an ‘illegal’ anti-government protest in Tehran. The move has consequently sparked a diplomatic spat between Iran and the UK after reports revealed that Macaire was briefly detained by the Iranian authorities.
In his defense, Macaire explained that he had appeared at Tehran for a memorial service in remembrance of the victims of the ill-fated Ukrainian airliner that crashed on January 8th, and which killed more than 175 passengers who were on board. He further stated that he fled from the scene when the gathering started chanting anti-government slogans amid chaos.
Iranian foreign ministry however issued a statement on Sunday asserting that “Rob Macaire was summoned because of his unconventional behavior of attending an illegal rally on Saturday. He wasn’t detained but arrested as an unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering. When police informed me about a man’s arrested who claims to be the UK Ambassador, I said it was impossible,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi. “Only after my phone conversation with him, I identified out of big surprise that it’s him. 15 minutes later, he was free,” added Abbas.
The UK’s secretary of state security, Brandon Lewis, based in London was however quick to call for de-escalation in tensions with Iran. This is as a number of Iranian legislators demanded for prompt expulsion of Rob Macaire.
Pressure continued to mount on Sunday as a crowd of about 200 people assembled outside the British Embassy in the Iranian capital chanting “Death to the UK” while another group set ablaze a British flag.
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