Iran’s ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the Foreign Office to explain why his British counterpart in Tehran was arrested, Downing Street said today.
Hamid Baeidinejad will be grilled over why Rob Macaire was briefly detained in the Iranian capital on Saturday.
He was arrested as fury grew following the hardline Islamist regime’s admission that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jet carrying mainly Iranian and Canadian nationals, plus four Britons, the Daily Mail reports.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said this morning that Mr Baeidinejad would meet officials to discuss his country’s actions in arresting Mr Macaire.
The spokesman said: ‘What happened was an unacceptable breach of the Vienna Convention.’
The 1961 Vienna Convention sets out the terms of modern diplomatic immunity and is supposed to ensure a country’s representatives are not harassed or prevented from doing their work by the nation hosting them.
The summoning of Iran’s ambassador comes after Mr Macaire was called into the Iranian foreign ministry on Sunday to address what the regime described as his ‘illegal and inappropriate presence’ at an anti-government protest.
Mr Macaire was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after being arrested by police as demonstrations broke out in Tehran over the downing of the Ukrainian airliner last week.
The move threatened to further escalate the diplomatic row between London and Tehran after Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab denounced Mr Macaire’s detention as a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law.
Dozens of Iranian hard-liners were reported to have gathered outside the British embassy, chanting ‘Death to England’ and calling for the ambassador to be expelled.
Mr Macaire denied he had been taking part in the demonstrations. He said he had been attending a vigil for the victims of Flight PS752, when protests broke out and he left.
‘Can confirm I wasn’t taking part in any demonstrations! Went to an event advertised as a vigil for victims of PS752 tragedy,’ he tweeted.
‘Normal to want to pay respects- some of victims were British. I left after five minutes, when some started chanting.’
Mr Macaire said that he was arrested 30 minutes after leaving the area, although he was later released.
Mr Baeidinejad tweeted yesterday that Mr Macaire was released as soon as his status as a diplomat became apparent.
‘As the Iranian high official has formally announced, the moment the police has been informed of the identity of the UK Ambassador, he has been freed,’ he said.