Downing Street has summoned Iran’s ambassador to the UK in response to the “unacceptable” arrest of the British ambassador in Tehran. The Foreign Office is set to “convey our strong objections” to the arrest which they have described as a “flagrant violation of international law”. Rob Macaire was detained for a short time on Saturday night after attending a vigil for those who died when Iran’s military shot down a passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board.
He left the vigil when it turned into a protest but was later accused of helping to organise the demonstrations.
Iran said he was “an unknown foreigner in an illegal gathering” and summoned him to the foreign ministry on Sunday.
In a statement, Iran’s foreign ministry said Mr Macaire was “reminded” that his presence at “illegal gatherings contravened” the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.
The US diplomat said he had made clear that he was not involved in demonstrations, and he was attending an event advertised as a vigil for the victims of Wednesday’s crash.
Boris Johnson has said the arrest of the British ambassador in Tehran was ‘unacceptable’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “This was an unacceptable breach of the Vienna Convention and it needs to be investigated.
“We are seeking full assurances from the Iranian government that this will never happen again.”
He added: “We have summoned the Iranian ambassador today to the Foreign Office to convey our strong objections.”
Under the Vienna Convention, diplomats cannot be detained.
Protests took place outside the British embassy in Iran yesterday
Mr Macaire was arrested and held for three hours.
In a statement issued on Saturday night Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab said: “The arrest of our ambassador in Tehran without grounds or explanation is a flagrant violation of international law.
“The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment. It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told MPs Iran now faced a choice about its future direction.
Mr Raab said: “The regime in Tehran is at a crossroads.
“It can slip further and further into political and economic isolation.
“But there is an alternative and the regime does have a choice: the diplomatic door remains open, now is the time for Iran to engage in diplomacy and chart a peaceful way forwards.”
(Additional reporting by Luke Hawker)