EU countries summon Iranian ambassadors over human rights concerns

Sep 25, 2020

European countries summoned Iranian ambassadors this week over Iran’s treatment of prisoners, including European citizens.

The British news outlet The Guardian reported that the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office summoned Iranian Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad on Tuesday. France and Germany also called on the Iranian ambassadors to their countries this week. The three European states acted together, according to the outlet.

Reuters also reported that France summoned the Iranian ambassador in Paris on Thursday in coordination with the United Kingdom and Germany.

Both the United Kingdom and France have citizens in Iranian detention facilities, a source of tensions with the Islamic Republic. Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual citizen of Iran and the United Kingdom, has been held in Iran since 2016. Earlier this month, the government announced new charges against her. She was originally detained for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government. She says she was only visiting family.

Academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British citizen, has been in prison since 2018 on espionage charges. She was in the country to conduct research and attend a conference. In July, authorities transferred her to the Qarchak women’s prison, which is notorious for disease and violence.

In 2019, Iranian-French anthropologist Fariba Adelkhah was arrested on national security grounds. In June, French President Emmanuel Macron demanded her release.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom have a less tense relationship with Iran than their ally the United States does, but pressure is turning up on Iran over its detention practices. The recent execution of wrestler Navid Afkari was condemned both within Iran and abroad.

Additional sanctions the United States placed on Iran Thursday also addressed human rights concerns. US special envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams told Congress the US sanctions include the judge who ordered Afkari’s execution.

The United States has had some success retrieving its citizens from Iran with Swiss mediation. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said this week that Tehran is open to further prisoner exchanges with Washington.

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