The British Ambassador in Iran, Simon Shercliff, says the man the Islamic Republic claims it has arrested left the country in December 2021 after his term finished.
The UK envoy tweeted on Thursday that “These reports that our deputy ambassador is currently detained are very interesting… He actually left Iran last December, at the end of his posting.”
Confirming his comments, the UK Foreign Office told Iran International that the "reports of the arrest of a British diplomat in Iran are completely false."
Iran's state television reported Wednesday night that the Revolutionary Guard's Intelligence Organization "identified and arrested" several foreign nationals, including the deputy head of the UK embassy in Tehran, who were taking soil samples in the central Iranian desert.
Giles Whitaker, the deputy head of the UK mission, was visiting the Shahdad desert near the city of Kerman along with his family when he was detained and expelled because of "trying to smuggle out samples of soil from a prohibited area close to IRGC’s missile tests.”
Several other researchers and scientists have also been arrested, including Maciej Walczak, a researcher at the Department of Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology at Nicolaus Copernicus University, as well as Marcin Switoniak and Charzynski Przemysław from the Soil Science Department of the same university.
Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a Polish national was taken into custody in Iran in September 2021. “Considering the best interests of the highly reputed scientist, the MFA will not disclose any details of the case,” it added.