Babylon & Beyond

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IRAN: Britain evacuating families of embassy staff

June 22, 2009 | 10:00 am

Britain's Foreign Office says it is evacuating the families of staff based in Iran amid persistent clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting the outcome of the disputed presidential election.

"The families of our staff have been unable to carry out their lives as usual. As a result, we are withdrawing the dependents of embassy staff," a Foreign Office spokesman told the Associated Press on the customary condition of anonymity.

He said staff will remain in Iran for now and that the Foreign Office is not advising other British nationals to leave the country, the Associated Press reported.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly accused Britain and other Western governments of fomenting the unrest over the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opposition supporters contend was the result of massive fraud in the June 12 vote. The nation’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Friday singled Britain out as “evil.”

The accusations, denied by Western officials, are not new but have increased in intensity as Iranian authorities confront the largest street protests in three decades.

-- Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles