British ambassador 'briefly detained' in Iran amid plane crash protests

British ambassador 'briefly detained' in Iran amid plane crash protests
Demonstrators returned to the streets of Tehran on Saturday after Iran admitted to accidentally downing a Ukrainian passenger jet.
2 min read
11 January, 2020
Macaire has diplomatic immunity as an ambassador [FCO]
The United Kingdom's ambassador to Iran was briefly detained in the capital Tehran amid renewed anti-government protests, the semi-official Tasnim news agency said.

The British ambassador, Rob Macaire, was detained for around an hour on suspicion of "organising suspicious movements" outside the Amirkabir University of Technology, Tasnim said on its official Farsi-language Twitter account.

Further details of the circumstances of the arrest are yet to emerge. Unverified reports indicate the ambassador may have been photographing the protests.

Macaire was appointed ambassador to Tehran in 2018.

As a diplomat, Macaire should be immune to arrest or prosecution but can be expelled by the Iranian authorities.

His apparent detention came amid renewed protests in the capital.

Mourning for the victims of crashed Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 turned to angry demonstrations on Saturday after Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps admitted the plane had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile fired in error. 

The plane crash occurred early on Wednesday, just hours after Tehran fired a volley of ballistic missiles at two bases in Iraq hosting US forces. That attack came in retaliation for the killing of top Guards general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike last week.

All 176 people on board the flight were killed, many of them Iranian citizens or Iranian-Canadian dual nationals.

Speaking to Reuters earlier on Saturday, Iranians condemned the government's earlier denials of culpability over the crash.

"Unintentionally? What does it mean? They concealed this huge tragic news for days just to mourn for Soleimani. Shame on you," said Reza Ghadyani from Tabriz.

Mira Sedaghati in Tehran also slammed the recklessness involved in the incident.

"They were so careful not to kill any American in their revenge for Soleimani. But they did not close the airport? This shows how much this regime cares for Iranians," Sedaghati said. No casualties were reported in the Iranian attack on US forces, with reports suggesting Washington was forewarned via the Iraqi premier.

Videos shared on social media showed hundreds of protesters gathered outside the capital's Amirkabir University.

"Commander-in-chief resign, resign," the demonstrators chanted, referring to the Islamic Republic's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

In other videos, demonstrators were captured chanting "death to liars" and "death to the dictator".

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