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EU condemns jail sentence for British employee in Iran

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European Union
European Union
AFP, Brussels, Oct 29, 2009 - The European Union condemned Thursday a reported jail sentence in Iran handed to a British embassy worker and expressed solidarity with Britain.
In a statement, the EU ’expresses its deep concern over the four-year prison sentence imposed on Mr Hossein Rassam, an employee of the British embassy in Tehran, which represents an attack on normal diplomatic activity.’
’The EU considers the sentence unjustified and harsh, and urges the Iranian authorities to overturn it swiftly,’ said the statement, issued by Sweden which holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.
’The presidency reiterates that any action against one EU country (a citizen or member of embassy staff) is considered an action against the entire EU, and will be treated accordingly,’ it said.
The message was sent to the Iranian ambassador in Stockholm.
According to British newspaper The Times, Rassam was sentenced to four years in prison this week after being found guilty of fomenting violence during Iran’s disputed presidential elections in June.
At an EU summit in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: ’We know that he was a hard working embassy official doing work that was wholly within the appropriate boundaries of diplomatic.’
’I’ve been very struck by the degree of support across European foreign ministries who recognise that this level of harassment is an attack not just on one embassy and one diplomatic network but on all 27,’ he told reporters.
’We look forward to the appeal that will be heard in Tehran and we hope very much indeed that these reports of a severe sentence turn out not to be the final decision,’ he added.
Rassam, the embassy’s chief political analyst, was arrested along with eight other local employees of the embassy on charges of participating in the riots that followed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad.
The eight were later released but Rassam was put on trial along with an employee of the French embassy and a French lecturer.

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