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Politics & press news – Embassy 18 – July/August 2009

Embassy analyst freed

The remaining British Embassy worker being held in Iran on suspicion of subversive activities has been released on bail, according to the Foreign Office.

Hossein Rassam was released from Evin prison in Tehran on bail of about US$100,000, his lawyer said.

Rassam, who was the Embassy’s chief political analyst, has been charged with harming national security for his alleged involvement in the post-election protests. A court date for his trial has not been set.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband welcomed the news and repeated his assertion that the embassy staff were not involved in “improper behaviour”. He added that he was grateful to Britain’s European partners for their “solidarity”.

Diplomatic relations between Iran and Britain have deteriorated since the elections, resulting in tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and the arrest of nine locally employed British embassy staff.

Meanwhile, demonstrators have continued to stage protests outside the Iranian Embassy in Princes’s Gate, more than a month after the disputed 12 June presidential elections.

Police described the protests as “peaceful” and said demonstrators had caused minimum disruption to the area.

Staff from neighbouring diplomatic missions told Embassy the protests had a “carnival atmosphere” with a crowd of about 100 supporters of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi gathering daily outside the Embassy, playing music, chanting anti-Ahmedinejad slogans, brandishing anti-government banners and waving posters of the slain Iranian student, 26-year-old Neda Soltani.

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