Iran summons British envoy over media coverage of protests

Iran summons British envoy over media coverage of protests

Protests over death of Iranian woman in police custody left 41 people dead

By Syed Zafar Mehdi

TEHRAN, Iran (AA) – Iran has summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to protest what it called the role of London-based Persian language media in "instigating riots" in the country.

In a Sunday statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the envoy was summoned in response to "hostile environment" created by Persian language media based in London against Iran in the wake of the death of a 22-year-old Iranian woman in police custody.

Mahsa Amini died in mysterious circumstances after being detained and taken to the headquarters of the morality police in Tehran last week.

While authorities maintain that she died of cardiac arrest, her family claims she was beaten in police custody, which has fueled angry protests across Iran in recent days and drawn condemnation from across the world, including the UK.

London-based Persian language media, including Iran International and BBC Persian, have widely reported the incident and the subsequent protests, which Iranian officials believe led to protests turning violent.

At least 41 people have been killed in the protests, which have in recent days taken a violent turn, especially in the capital Tehran.

The Foreign Ministry said a "strong protest" was lodged against the British government for "hosting" the media that has in recent days "incited disturbances and riots", describing it as "interference" in Iran's internal affairs and breach of the country's sovereignty.

The statement cited the British ambassador as saying that he will "immediately report the matter" to London.

In a related development, the Norwegian ambassador in Tehran was also summoned by the Foreign Ministry to explain the “interventionist stance” of the country’s parliament speaker on Iran’s internal affairs.

The ministry termed the parliament speaker’s comments "unrealistic" and "unconstructive", calling it "interference" in Iran's internal affairs.

Many countries in the West have issued strongly-worded statements in recent days over Amini's death in police custody, demanding impartial investigations.

The United Nations in a statement last week also called for an independent probe into the incident, terming the young woman's death "tragic".

“Mahsa Amini’s tragic death and allegations of torture and ill-treatment must be promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent competent authority,” Nada al-Nashif, the acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Tuesday.

On Saturday, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi called for "decisive action" against unruly protesters while the armed forces and intelligence ministry also issued stern warnings in separate statements.

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