Iran arrests UK's deputy ambassador, foreigners for 'spying' activities

Photo: AP

TEHRAN, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) arrested the British deputy ambassador and other foreigners for "spying" activities such as collecting soil samples in prohibited areas, official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday.

According to a video released by the IRGC Intelligence Organization, the IRGC has identified some diplomats of foreign embassies, including the British deputy ambassador, who were "spying" instead of carrying out their diplomatic missions, said the report.

"The British deputy ambassador had gone to Shahdad desert (in central Iran) with his family as a tourist, but as the recorded images show, this person was collecting soil samples in this area," the report said.

Western news outlets have identified the arrested British diplomat as Giles Whitaker, the deputy head of mission at the British embassy in Iran.

However, a spokesperson for Britain's Foreign Office said "reports of the arrest of a British diplomat in Iran are completely false."

Iran also identified, Maciej Walczak, a Polish scientist who visited Iran "under the guise of scientific exchanges," as another arrestee, saying he, as a tourist, went to the Shahdad region in Kerman Province, where IRGC was holding a missile test, according the IRNA report.

He and his companions collected samples of soil, water, rock, salt, and mud from the region near the testing area, the report said.

Another arrestee is the spouse of a cultural advisor of the Austrian embassy, who visited the villages of Damghan city in Semnan Province, and collected samples of the soil of the area, it added.