Britain says the detention of eight British Embassy employees in Iran as "harassment and intimidation."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband is condemning the detention of eight British Embassy employees in Tehran, and demanding the Iranian government release them all.
Miliband called their detention "harassment.
"The United Kingdom is deeply concerned at the arrest and, in some cases, continued detention of some of our hard-working locally engaged staff in Tehran," Miliband said. "This is harassment and intimidation of a kind which is quite unacceptable. These are hard working diplomatic staff. The idea that the British embassy is somehow behind the demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in Tehran in recent weeks is wholly without foundation. We have protested in strong terms directly to the Iranian authorities about the arrests that took place yesterday."
Iran's English language Press TV reported Sunday that eight local employees of the British Embassy were arrested for their alleged involvement in post-election protests.
Relations between Iran and the West have taken a turn for the worse in the aftermath of a brutal crackdown by Iranian authorities against opposition supporters protesting alleged "voting irregularities" in the June 12th presidential election.
Defeated popular reformist candidate Mirhossein Mousavi says he will not accept a government offer to do a partial recount of the election, which incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad officially won by a landslide.
Meanwhile, the Iranian News Network (IRINN) showed the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, addressing a conference of Iran's judiciary. Khamenei called recent statements by U.S. and European leaders criticizing the violence "ridiculous," adding that they would have the "opposite effect" from that which was expected.
He also reportedly urged judiciary members "not to inflame the sentiments of Iranian young people."
He advises both sides (of the election dispute) not to stoke the emotions of the young and not to pit people against each other. Iran, he insists, is united and has a united faith too. It also has a heartfelt relation with the system, he adds, and this was demonstrated by the (high) turnout at the ballot box. This united nation, he concludes, must not be divided and no group must be incited against another. He says Iran has a legal way for settling (electoral) differences.
Talk of a power struggle within the highest ranks of the Iranian regime continues to surface, with al-Arabiya TV reporting former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been organizing opposition against Khamenei.
The Guardian newspaper also reports that Rafsanjani has been attempting to rally a majority of the 86-member Assembly of Experts, which he heads, to replace Khamenei "with a small committee of senior ayatollahs."
Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who recently boycotted an election victory celebration by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, has also begun to deviate from official government positions, demanding, recently, that parliament investigate post-election violence "in a fair and even-handed manner."