VOA: WASHINGTON — Britain is denying a report by human rights activists that Iran’s nuclear negotiator threatened to curtail his involvement in upcoming talks with world powers unless British officials shut down the independent Iran Atrocities Tribunal hearings in London that are investigating Tehran’s deadly crackdown on 2019 protests.
“We do not recognize the report of recent meetings between representatives of the U.K. and Iran. No threat was made to the U.K. with regard to the events organized by human rights groups this week in London,” a British embassy spokesperson in Washington said in a statement emailed to VOA on Saturday.
The tribunal — which has no legal standing and was launched by three rights groups — had posted a Persian-language tweet Friday, citing unnamed European sources claiming that Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator and Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani made the purported threat to downgrade his upcoming talks with world powers a day earlier in meetings with British officials in London.
In a phone call with VOA, the British embassy spokesperson said the assertion that Bagheri Kani made such a threat is “100% not true.”
به گفته منابع اروپایی که خواستند نامشان فاش نشود معاون وزارت خارجه ایران در دیدار خود با مقامات بریتانیایی خواستار توقف دادگاه بینالمللی مردمی آبان شده است و تهدید کرده که بخشی از مذاکرات خود را متوقف خواهد کرد. (1/2)#آبان_زنده_است #آبان_ادامه_دارد pic.twitter.com/H2cjy7Xowa
— Aban Tribunal (@AbanTribunal) November 12, 2021
The tribunal’s tweet said the European sources quoted Bagheri Kani as telling the British officials: “You want us to negotiate with you about the [2015 Iran nuclear deal], but instead of showing us goodwill, you have allowed terrorists to put us on trial here [in London].”
Bagheri Kani’s reference to “terrorists” appeared to be aimed at the human rights groups staging the tribunal, which opened Wednesday and is set to conclude Sunday.
During visit to 🇫🇷 ,🇩🇪 ,🇬🇧 & 🇪🇸, I had serious & constructive discussions on bilateral,regional & int’l issues incl. upcoming negotiations. Also has several interviews w/ media.
Effective removal of unlawful sanctions & importance of assurances on non-repetition was emphasized. https://t.co/DEvdGpN55n
— علی باقریکنی (@Bagheri_Kani) November 12, 2021
Bagheri Kani made no mention of any threat when he posted a Friday tweet summarizing his meetings with British and other European officials in recent days.
In its first response to the tribunal, the U.S. State Department on Friday sent a statement to VOA saying it is following the event. Asked if the U.S. will consider tightening human rights-related sanctions on Iran in light of witnesses testifying at the tribunal about alleged Iranian rights abuses, a State Department spokesperson said the U.S. “cannot comment on internal sanctions deliberations.”
The U.S. spokesperson accused the Iranian government of “continuing to deny Iranians their human rights, including through severe restrictions on the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of expression.”
The spokesperson also said the U.S. “condemns the use of violence against peaceful protesters. We support the rights of Iranians to peacefully assemble and express themselves, without fear of violence and detention by security forces.”
This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service.