Aras Amiri's conviction likely to focus attention on the British Council's covert role

The British Council purports to be a cultural and educational organisation but critics suspect it has a more sinister role

Eerily similar to the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, the British media has taken up the cause of yet another individual convicted by the Iranian courts on national security charges.

Aras Amiri, an employee of the British Council, was convicted in May for spying on Iran in behalf of the British intelligence services.

Amiri, an Iranian national with British residency, recently lost her final appeal against her 10-year jail sentence. 

At the heart of the case against her was her longstanding employment with the British Council, and specifically, her lead role in advancing the Council’s interests in Iran.

The British Council describes itself as the United Kingdom’s “international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities”.  

But to many people in the international community, the British Council is merely a tool of British foreign policy.

It has long been suspected that British Council facilities and programmes abroad are used as talent spotting and recruitment tools for the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6.

Not surprisingly, the British press has lost no time in taking up Amiri’s cause. The Guardian stole a march on its more right-wing rivals by giving Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of jailed dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a platform to indulge in self-serving propaganda.

Ratcliffe, whose wife was also convicted in Iran on national security charges, described Amiri as “Iran’s latest state-sponsored hostage” on Guardian’s May 16 edition.

Perhaps in an effort to create yet another Ratcliffe on the media stage, the Guardian has brought Amiri’s British fiancé into the fray.

Writing in the Guardian on August 22, James Tyson claims that Amiri was convicted in a “bogus trial” on “false charges of espionage”.

As in the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case, the British media – in tandem with the British government – is intent on hiding the true role of British institutions by calling into question the independence and integrity of the Iranian judiciary.

This latest British disinformation campaign is likely to backfire as it will inadvertently focus attention on the British Council and its allegedly covert relationship with the British intelligence services.   

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