Britain’s ambassador has reportedly taken a trip outside of Iran after becoming the focus of angry protests and denunciations in Tehran following his brief arrest while at an event for victims of a passenger plane accidentally shot down by regime forces.
Rob Macaire flew back to the UK on Wednesday, according to Sky News, though the Foreign Office told the British outlet that the trip had been previously planned and was “very much business as usual.”
It said he planned on returning to Iran within days.
On Tuesday, members of the Basij militia loyal to the regime burned a cut-out of Macaire during a demonstration at Tehran University as women in black chadours chanted “death to Britain.”
Iran’s judiciary spokesman on Tuesday described Macaire as a “persona non grata” and said his “obligations under international treaties are clear.”
It was not clear if the statement held legal weight requiring Macaire’s expulsion.
Macaire was briefly arrested on Saturday night near a protest against Iranian authorities.
Iran summoned Macaire on Sunday to reproach him for attending an “illegal gathering” and demanded “explanations” from London.
Macaire said he went to an event advertised as a vigil for the 176 people who died when Iran mistakenly downed an Ukrainian airliner, and left after five minutes when people started shouting. He was arrested half an hour later.
Relations between Tehran and London have historically been poor, with the Islamic Republic equating Britain with the US in representing “imperialism” and “arrogance.”
On Monday, Britain summoned Iran’s ambassador to lodge its “strong objections” to Macaire’s arrest.
The Islamic republic responded by calling “for an immediate halt to all interference and provocation by the British embassy”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
It warned that Iran’s response “will not be limited to summoning the ambassador (to the ministry) if this attitude persists.”