Hamid Baeidinejad was called to attend a meeting in Whitehall, expected to be with Middle East minister Andrew Murrison.
Mr Baeidinejad was summoned after Britain’s ambassador in Iran, Rob Macaire, was held by police on Saturday after attending a vigil for victims of the passenger plane that was shot down last week by mistake by the Revolutionary Guard, killing all 176 people on board.
Mr Macaire was understood to have been held having gone to a barber’s shop for a hair cut on the way back to the British Embassy. He tweeted yesterday: “Thanks for the many goodwill messages. Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of #PS 1644 tragedy. Normal to want to pay respects – some of victims were British. I left after 5 mins, when some chanting started.
“Detained half an hour after leaving the area. Arresting diplomats is of course illegal, in all countries. ”
Foreign SecretaryDominic Raabcondemned the “arrest” of the ambassador “without grounds or explanation”, which he stressed was a “flagrant violation of international law ” The Iranian foreign ministry said Mr Macaire was swiftly released after it had been alerted.
The regime faced fresh fury today after security forces allegedly fired live ammunition and tear gas at a protest over the shooting down of a the jet. Videos posted online showed a crowd fleeing near Azadi (Freedom) Square in the capital Tehran last night, apparently after being fired upon. Tehran’s police chief Hossein Rahimi denied his officers had shot at demonstrators.
“Police officers have been given orders to show restraint,” he insisted. However, the denial was likely to be treated with scepticism given the regime flatly rejected for days that its military mistakenly downed Ukraine International Airlines flight PS 1644 with a missile on Wednesday after it had taken off from the capital’s international airport.
Videos posted on social media suggested gunshots were fired near the protests, showed pools of blood, as well as images of wounded people being carried away, although the footage could not be verified. In one of the clips, demonstrators flee, coughing, as a tear gas canister lands among them, with one woman calling out in Farsi: “They fired tear gas at people. Azadi Square. Death to the dictator. ”
Riot police in black uniforms and helmets were sent to Vali-e Asr Square, at Tehran University, yesterday and other landmarks. President Donald Trump tweeted: “To the leaders of Iran – DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS.”
Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko called for an open trial for those responsible for the jet tragedy, stressing that five countries who lost nationals would meet in London to discuss bringing the perpetrators to justice. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at a memorial service in Edmonton, said: “We will not rest until there is justice and accountability.”
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