Expulsion of envoy ‘may be best for him’, says Iran cleric
IRAN declared the British ambassador to Tehran persona non grata yesterday, calling for him to be expelled for his alleged role in recent anti-government protests.
Iran’s judiciary spokesman said Robert Macaire had played a “provocative role” when he attended a vigil at the weekend for passengers killed in the passenger jet crash last week.
Mr Macaire said he left the event as soon as the protests began and was arrested on his way to the embassy, in violation of the Vienna Convention.
He was detained for several hours before Iran’s foreign ministry intervened and arranged for his release.
An effigy of the ambassador and a Union flag were burnt in Tehran yesterday.
“It is not acceptable for us to see that the British ambassador went outside
‘It is not acceptable for us to see that the British ambassador took part in an illegal gathering’
the embassy and took part in an illegal gathering, filmed it and had a provocative role in its continuation,” Gholamhossein Esmaili, the spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, told reporters.
“This person is persona non grata... while expectations and international regulations necessitate his expulsion.”
Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, a prominent hardline cleric, said expelling the ambassador would be “the best thing that can happen to him” as otherwise loyal supporters of Qassem Soleimani, killed in a US drone strike earlier this month, would “chop him to small pieces”.
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said the UK Government had received no formal notification that Mr Macaire would be expelled, adding that any such action would be “regrettable”.
The Iranian judiciary announced the arrest of a number of people over the downing of the Ukranian Airlines jet by Iran’s missile defence system, which killed all 176 on board.
Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, which lost 63 nationals in the crash, took an extraordinary swipe at Donald Trump, saying the victims would be with their families if not for the US president’s decision to target Soleimani.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Mr Trudeau said.
Members of a militia loyal to the Islamic republic burn a cardboard cutout of ambassador Robert Macaire and a Union flag in Tehran