(Tehran): – Tasnim News Agency reports that the 53-year-old diplomat was arrested for several hours accused of inciting protesters at Amir Akabir University. Rob Macaire, 53, was in the furious crowds which clashed with cops, and was detained after photographing demonstrators.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrest of the ambassador – who was appointed as envoy in March 2018 – is a “flagrant violation of international law”. He added: “The Iranian government is at a cross-roads moment.
“It can continue its march towards pariah status with all the political and economic isolation that entails, or take steps to deescalate tensions and engage in a diplomatic path forwards.”
Mr Macaire was detained for more than an hour before he was released. Locals had clashed with riot police as they stormed the streets of Tehran chanting “death to liars” and demanding the country’s supreme leader resigns.
The furious crowds’ demands for Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei to step down were sparked after the regime admitted it “unintentionally” shot down a Ukranian passenger plane.
Vigils for Iranian lives lost in Tuesday’s fatal crash turned angry as protesters hit out at the military blunder.
Riot cops flooded in with tear gas as they tried to break up the large groups outside Amirkabir University, who demanded justice.
Around 1,000 protesters chanted “down with the dictator” and “shame on IRGC [Revolutionary Guard], let the country go”.
While at Sharif University, crowds shouted “commander in chief, resign!” as demonstrators ripped up pictures of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Guard’s Quds Force killed in a US drone strike.
The Boeing 737 flight came down on Tuesday, hours after Tehran launched a barrage of rockets against US targets in Iraq.
And Iran today claimed the deaths of 176 people were due to the “aggressive” US, which led to the “catastrophic mistake.”
After repeated denials, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani admitted his forces gunned down the civilian aircraft because they mistook it for an American fighter plane.
In a statement, he said: “In an atmosphere of threats and intimidation by the aggressive American regime against the Iranian nation following the martyrdom of general Qasem Soleimani and with the aim of defending against possible US Army attacks, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces were on full alert, when unfortunately a human error and miscalculated shooting caused a major catastrophe and dozens of innocent people fell victim to it.”
The Iranian leader also offered his “deep condolences” to the families of the victims and said the country’s Foreign Ministry would work to identify and bring bodies back to their countries.
Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, has also offered condolences over the plane disaster and called for an investigation.