British-Iranians should not travel to Iran – Foreign Office
Written by News on 18/05/2019
British-Iranian dual nationals should not travel to Iran, the Foreign Office has said.
The Foreign Office changed its travel advice because of the Iranian government’s “continued arbitrary detention and mistreatment of dual nationals”.
The advice has also changed because of Iranian citizens’ links with UK institutions.
British nationals, particularly dual nations, face an “unacceptably higher risk” of arbitrary detention and mistreatment than nationals of other countries, the FCO added.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Dual nationals face an intolerable risk of mistreatment if they visit Iran. Despite the UK providing repeated opportunities to resolve this issue, the Iranian regime’s conduct has worsened.
“Having exhausted all other options, I must now advise all British-Iranian dual nationals against travelling to Iran.
“The dangers they face include arbitrary detention and lack of access to basic legal rights, as we have seen in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been separated from her family since 2016.
“Regrettably, I must also offer a message of caution to Iranian nationals resident in the UK – but who return to visit family and friends – especially where the Iranian government may perceive them to have personal links to UK institutions or the British government.”
The Iranian government does not recognise dual nationality, and the FCO has limited capacity to provide consular support to jailed British-Iranian nationals.
The full FCO travel advice tells dual nationals they should avoid travelling within 100km of the entire Iran/Afghanistan border, and within 10km of the entire Iran/Iraq border.
Dual nationals should also avoid the province of Sistan-Baluchistan and the area east of the line running from Bam to Jask, including Bam.
Earlier this week, Sky News revealed the Foreign Office is in “crisis mode” because of rising tensions in the Gulf between the United States and Iran.
Crisis mode is a formal status at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in response to events. There is a crisis centre within the department, with screens, computers and secure telephone lines to enable staff to keep in contact contacts with missions and diplomats in the region affected.
It comes soon after an Iranian national was jailed for 10 years for spying for the UK. The person, who has not been identified, worked for the British Council and is said to have offered a full confession.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been held in the country since being arrested at Tehran airport in 2016 over allegations she was involved in plans for “regime change”.
Efforts to secure her freedom by her husband Richard and the UK Foreign Office have proved futile.
At the end of last month it was suggested she could be released as part of a prisoner swap.
As it stands, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe still has plenty of time to go on the five-year sentence she is serving in Tehran.
Her trial by a revolutionary court in the capital was widely condemned as unfair and she strenuously denies the charges against her, with Mr Hunt granting her diplomatic protection.
But Tehran refuses to acknowledge her dual nationality and said the move by the foreign secretary was illegal.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested just as she was due to head back from a family holiday with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella.
(c) Sky News 2019: British-Iranians should not travel to Iran – Foreign Office