Skip to main content

Iran frees British Council employee Aras Amiri

Aras Amiri's lawyer in Tehran said the British Council worker flew out of the Iranian capital on Monday after her travel ban was lifted. 
Aras Amiri.

An Iranian woman jailed on spying charges has returned to the United Kingdom after Iran’s judiciary removed her travel ban, her lawyer and employer said Wednesday. 

The British Council said Aras Amiri was acquitted of all charges against her following a successful appeal by her lawyers to Iran’s Supreme Court. Her lawyer in Tehran, Hojjat Kermani, confirmed to The Associated Press that Amiri flew out of the Iranian capital on Monday after her travel ban was lifted. 

In March 2018, the London-based Iranian citizen traveled to her home country to visit with her ailing grandmother and was arrested seven days later for alleged spying. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April 2019. 

Iran's judiciary claimed that Amiri had confessed to working with British intelligence. But in an appeal letter to Iran’s chief justice, Amiri said she had been jailed for refusing to go along with Iranian intelligence forces who asked her to spy for them.

“I directly rejected their offer for cooperation and told them that I can only work in my own field and nothing else,” she wrote from prison in June 2019.

Before her arrest, Amiri worked for Britain’s cultural outreach agency fostering artistic exchanges between the UK and Iran.

“We have always refuted the original charges made against Aras,” the British Council said in a statement. “We are very proud of her work in our London office as an arts program officer supporting a greater understanding and appreciation of Iranian culture in the UK.”

A number of dual nationals and foreigners are detained in Iran on widely criticized espionage charges, including British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe; retired British-Iranian engineer Anoosheh Ashoori; and Morad Tahbaz, an environmentalist who holds British, American and Iranian citizenship. 

As part of a November 2020 prisoner swap, British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert was released after three years in Iranian custody. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in