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8 British embassy staff held in Iran

Eight Iranian employees of the British embassy in Tehran have been detained for active involvement in post-election unrest in the Islamic Republic, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

world Updated: Jun 29, 2009 00:42 IST

Eight Iranian employees of the British embassy in Tehran have been detained for active involvement in post-election unrest in the Islamic Republic, an Iranian news agency reported on Sunday.

The move is likely to strain relations further between London and Tehran following Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential election and a tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats.

Iran has accused Western powers — Britain and the United States in particular — of interfering in its internal affairs after the vote, which sparked days of huge demonstrations in which at least 20 people were killed.

Britain and US have rejected the accusations.

Official results showing hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won re-election by a landslide were met with disbelief by many Iranians who agreed with complaints by the runner-up, Mir Hussein Mousavi, that the vote was rigged.

The authorities accuse Mousavi of responsibility for the bloodshed that occurred when riot police and religious basij militia crushed the protests. Mousavi blames the government. Iranian officials have over the last week stepped up accusations of foreign interference.

In 2007, 15 British sailors and marines were seized by Iran in the Gulf and released after a tense 13-day standoff.

Moussavi rejects partial vote recount

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi refused to support a panel set up by the electoral watchdog Guardian Council to conduct a partial recount of votes in the disputed presidential election, a media report said.

Refusing to be cowed by attacks on his party offices, Mousavi again demanded for fresh polls. “Limiting the probe into complaints about electoral irregularities to recounting 10 per cent of the ballot boxes cannot attract people’s trust and convince public opinion about the results,” Mousavi said on his website.

Moussavi said: “Reaching a just judgment is not within the domain of the council and above all a board which is appointed by this council.