Iran releases protesters detained in British embassy attack
Eleven protesters in the British embassy attack were released last night. Britain is rallying Europe to clamp down hard on Iran.
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Iran heightened suspicion of its complicity in Tuesday's attack on the British embassy in Tehran by releasing 11 of the protesters detained without explanation. British government officials vowed to take further action against Iran and to bring other European countries on board ahead of a European Union meeting today.
Damaging property can carry a prison term for as much as three years in Iran, the Associated Press reports. Yesterday's release of the protesters, who were described as students, could "indicate the 11 have high-level protection from circles within the Iranian establishment," according to the AP. But Iran watchers have contested the storyline of a student-led attack, arguing that at least some of the protesters were members of the
In solidarity with Britain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands have recalled their own ambassadors to Tehran. Foreign Secretary William Hague vowed to push for an intensification of European sanctions when he meets with European Union officials today, the Guardian reports.
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The events were sparked by Britain's decision to cut off Iranian access to the British banking system in order to undermine Iran's nuclear work, which much of the West believes is aimed at making a nuclear bomb. The embassy attack began as a protest calling for the expulsion of the British ambassador to Tehran because of that decision. Earlier in the week, the Iranian parliament – known as the majlis – voted in favor of reducing its ties with Britain.
As Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani noted after the ratification of the bill, it is only the beginning for Britain, and the Islamic Republic will consider taking tougher measures, including cutting relations in all the previous areas of cooperation. Due to Britain’s longstanding animosity toward the Iranian nation, all citizens are happy to hear that the level of diplomatic relations with the country has been downgraded to the minimum level.
The British Embassy’s failure to fulfill its environmental responsibilities in regard to the British ambassador’s summer residence in the Qolhak Garden in northern Tehran, where about 310 trees were cut down, has intensified the people’s anger.
And the Iranian people believe that the British Embassy’s next act of treachery against the country will be worse than cutting down trees.
But not all Iranians – even in conservative circles – appear to support the attack. An article in The Wall Street Journal posited that Tuesday's attack may have been an attempt by some conservative factions to curry favor with Iran's hard-line leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ahead of March parliamentary elections.
"There seems to be a rivalry among conservative politicians to say and act as revolutionary and radical as possible to please Mr. Khamenei," said Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, a former Iranian lawmaker who is now a professor at the University of Massachusetts.