Iran General NewsIran heaps scorn on UK after 'spy tunnel' find

Iran heaps scorn on UK after ‘spy tunnel’ find

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The Scotsman: Iranian newspapers have long poured scorn on the debauchery and deviousness of the British Foreign Office.
The Scotsman

MICHAEL THEODOULOU

IRANIAN newspapers have long poured scorn on the debauchery and deviousness of the British Foreign Office.

But now the criticism has been cranked up further with the alleged discovery of a secret tunnel used to sneak “spies and prostitutes” into the British embassy in Tehran.

The passage was been uncovered by workmen, according to reports.

Labourers digging foundations for a carpet shop opposite the embassy on an avenue in the heart of the capital stumbled across what was described as a “huge” underground passageway.

A blogger who used to work at the embassy was reported as saying: “The British embassy is using the tunnel for the comings and goings of spies linked to the embassy, and prostitutes.”

Raja News, a website close to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hardline president, ran the story. Iran’s state-run radio broadcast a similar report, brief but excitable, and urged listeners to remain tuned in for further revelations.

The lurid accusations will sound ludicrous to Western ears, less so to many Iranians who are steeped in the history of British imperial meddling in Iran during the 19th and 20th centuries. Many still view Britain as perfidious Albion.

The allegations of spying tunnels come at a tense time in relations between Tehran and London, which is backing US calls for further punitive sanctions aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear programme. Protesters in June sabotaged the British diplomatic event of the year by heckling Iranians attempting to attend the annual Queen’s Birthday party at the embassy.

Of the 1,500 guests invited, only 200 made it inside the British compound, an oasis of green tranquillity on Ferdowsi Avenue.

Some had been warned not to attend while those who did were videotaped and photographed on the way in and out. Islamic students in black shirts threw eggs and paint at arriving guests, calling them dirty Iranians for being willing to eat the birthday cake of the “Queen of Lies”.

The function coincided with the announcement of Salman Rushdie’s knighthood. That provoked a furious outcry among Iranian hardliners who rounded on the Queen.

One hardline newspaper suggested that the “English hag” was seeking a smokescreen for the loss of Empire by knighting the novelist.

The latest allegations of spying and sexual licence at the British embassy appear part of a campaign to prevent Iranians having contacts with Britons and other foreigners. By curtailing direct contacts, hardliners make it more difficult for British diplomats to take the country’s pulse.

When in 1994 Iran claimed a listening device was found in the wall of its embassy in London, Britain was denounced as the “land of spies and pirates”.

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