MI6 headquarters in London
Dec. 14: Iranian authorities say they have arrested an individual who has confessed to working for British intelligence and is currently being tried.
Iran’s media says authorities have detained a spy working for the British intelligence agency MI6 in the town of Kerman in the southeast of the country.
The semi-official Iranian news agency ISNA reported that the individual had confessed to working as an agent for British intelligence and was currently on trial.
“The spy was arrested after several months of complex intelligence activities,” Dadkhoda Salari, head of Kerman’s revolutionary court told the agency.
He said the individual had visited British intelligence officers 11 times inside and outside Iran and passed them information on the regime. The alleged agent had also received “plans against the Islamic Republic of Iran”, the news agency reported.
Salari said the captured “spy” had had contacts with 4 MI6 officers. “Under training and instruction of the intelligence officers, the spy has collected the information and transferred them to the source country of espionage,” the official said.
The foreign office declined to confirm or deny details of the arrest and it was unclear whether the individual concerned was a British national. Local media reports suggested he was an Iranian businessman.
Iran periodically claims to have captured alleged foreign agents. Often few further details are released. The arrest comes as Iran and Britain are attempting to repair ties following the election of moderate President Hassan Rouhani in June.
The British embassy in Tehran was closed in late 2011 after hardliners overran the building.
In 2007, Iran seized 15 Royal Navy personnel from HMS Cornwall, who had been on anti-drug smuggling operations in the Persian Gulf, and held them for 13 days.The incident provided Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the then Iranian President, with a public relations coup.
After ordering the release of the sailors and Royal Marines he said: “This pardon is a gift to the British people.”
The ascent of Rouhani, who has swapped the anti-western rhetoric of Ahmadinejad for a policy of rapprochement, has opened a new era in Iran’s relations with the international community.
Last month Tehran signed a temporary deal on its nuclear programme with world powers, agreeing to curb some of its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Yesterday it was reported that an American man missing in Iran for the past seven years had been engaged by a group of rogue CIA agents to pass them intelligence without the knowledge of their superiors.