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UK Warns Citizens Can Be “Arbitrarily Detained” in Iran

In the wake of the high-profile arrests of several dual-nationals in Iran, the United Kingdom updated its travel advisory for citizens visiting the Islamic Republic, warning that they can be “arbitrarily detained.”

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) initially relaxed elements of its travel warning after last year’s nuclear deal, but a “stalemate over the fate of at least two British-Iranians currently detained in Tehran appears to have led the FCO to amend its instructions” and issue a new travel warning on Friday, The Guardian reported.

“British nationals – including dual British/Iranian nationals – face greater risks than nationals of many other countries,” the FCO stated in the updated warning, adding that students and independent travelers are at even greater risk than those invited by Iranian businesses or government authorities. (Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese national with U.S. permanent residency, was notably arrested last year after being invited to Iran by a government official.)

The FCO noted that Iran does not recognize dual nationality for Iranian citizens, and therefore does not grant consular access to any such detainees, and that Iran’s “subsequent judicial process falls below international standards.”

British-Iranian nationals currently being held by Iran include Kamal Foroughi, a 76-year-old businessman who has been jailed since May 2011, and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was separated from her toddler and arrested in April. An Iranian official told Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband last month that he should pressure the British government to “reach an agreement” with Tehran for his wife’s release.

The FCO’s warning is similar to one issued by the United States State Department, which was most recently updated in March 14, 2016.

In Why Does Iran Keep Taking American Hostages?, published in the September 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Iran expert Ali Alfoneh described the regime’s detainment of foreign and dual-nationals as “a perfectly normal procedure and political practice in the Islamic Republic. That has been the case since the first day of the revolution and continues until today.”

[Photo: Free Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe / YouTube ]