A London-based Iranian woman working for a British cultural organization has been detained in Iran for the past 50 days, a family member has revealed.
A cousin of Aras Amiri, 32, announced her detention in a series of Twitter posts beginning Tuesday.
Mohsen Omrani, a postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told VOA Persian that he learned the details of his cousin's incarceration by speaking with her parents in the northern city of Amol. He said she was detained on March 14, six days after arriving in Tehran and traveling to Amol to visit her ailing grandmother.
Omrani said Amiri was being held at Tehran's Evin prison on suspicion of acting against Iranian national security — a common charge filed by the government against Iranians accused of illicit political activity. He dismissed the allegation, saying Amiri is an art student and cultural ambassador who has organized artistic exchanges between Britain and Iran.
Amiri had been living for the past decade in London, where she worked for the British Council, a partially government-funded organization promoting British cultural relations with the rest of the world. She also had been a graduate student in art philosophy at London's Kingston University.
In a statement emailed to VOA Persian, the British Council said it was aware that one of its staff had been detained in Iran while making a private family visit. It said the British Council does not have offices or representatives in Iran and works remotely to develop people-to-people cultural links with Iranians.
The British Council suspended its activities in Iran in 2009 after harassment of its staff by Iranian authorities.
Omrani said Amiri had been inviting Iranian artists to participate in events in Britain with approval from Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance.
There was no immediate word on Amiri's fate in Iranian state media.
This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Persian Service.