The head of Britain’s domestic spy agency revealed on Wednesday that Iran’s intelligence services have made at least 10 attempts to kidnap or even kill British citizens or people based in the United Kingdom who are seen as threats by Tehran.
While Tehran used violence to silence critics at home, Ken McCallum, Director General of the Security Service known as MI5, claimed that Tehran’s “aggressive intelligence services” were also directly projecting a threat to Britain.
Last week, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said he had summoned Tehran’s most senior diplomat over alleged threats by Iranian security forces to journalists in Britain.
Cleverly said he had made clear to the diplomat that “we do not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of any kind towards journalists, or any individual, living in the UK”.
McCallum said the Iranian intelligence services were “a sophisticated adversary” who sometimes operated using their own staff or courted others to work on their behalf, and sometimes they were prepared to take “reckless action”.
“At times they will take that action in Western countries, at times they will seek to lure people to other parts of the world including Iran itself,” he said.
On Monday, Britain said it had sanctioned two dozen Iranian officials including the government’s communications minister and the chief of its cyber police over the “violent repression of protests” sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of the morality police.
For its part, Iran has charged that its adversaries in the West are to blame for igniting the massive demonstrations that followed the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on September 16 and that have constituted one of the most audacious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
The French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier on Wednesday that Iran was acting aggressively against France by detaining its people, and his views echo those of the British espionage director.
In relation to the protests, Iran reported on Wednesday that several French intelligence agents had been detained.