EU meeting with activists during Iran visit sparks tension with Tehran
Iran issued a statement officially criticizing European parliamentarians for meeting with dissident leaders while visiting the Islamic republic earlier this month, according to Agence France-Presse Sunday.
During their six-day visit to Iran, the 8-member parliamentarian group met 2012 Sakharov human rights prize winners lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film-maker Jafar Panahi under arrangements facilitated by the Greek embassy. The two winners had previously been detained by the Iranian government due to their "connection" with "unrest" that led to the 2009 protests after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection win.
According to Iran's state news agency, "The Greek charge d'affaires was summoned to the foreign ministry on Saturday to be informed of Iran's displeasure [of the arranged meetings between Sotoudeh, Panahi, and the European parliamentarians]."
European parliamentarians had previously tried to meet with the two human rights activists in October last year, but the meeting was canceled after Tehran refused to authorize the arrangement.
The meeting has apparently "aggravated" Iranian conservatives in particular, with MP Kazem Jalali saying that the meeting could be described as "interference in Iran's internal affairs."
Parliamentarian Tarja Cronberg from Finland led the European delegation to Iran during the visit. The group also met with senior officials including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.