Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office in London received more than £100,000 in coronavirus aid from the British government, The Times reported on Wednesday.
Official figures filed last month show that the Islamic Center of England received £109,476 from the coronavirus job retention scheme, a government program to protect jobs amid pandemic disruptions.
The Islamic Republic, controlled by Khamenei, does not allow the presence of many international institutions or non-governmental organizations in Iran, but it directly and indirectly has a network of associations and offices in the world, including Western countries.
The issue with Britain is starker, as Iran is detaining Iranian-British dual citizens on charges of sedition and espionage without due process of law.
Although Khamenei’s representative offices abroad are presented as his religious envoys, they in fact carry political weight and try to project influence both within Iranian and the wider Shiite Muslim communities in host countries.
Legally, the Islamic Center of England might have been eligible for the special government aid, but politically the episode can have repercussion in the United Kingdom, which democratically allows residents to form associations and establish foundations.