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Iran detains foreigners for 'spying', UK denies its official held

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: A general view of the Iranian embassy on December 1, 2011 in London, England. Britain has closed the Iranian embassy in Knightsbridge in central London, and shut its mission in Tehran after an attack by protesters. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated recently, with the UK Treasury imposing sanctions on Iranian banks, accusing them of supporting a nuclear programme in the country. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A general view of the Iranian embassy on December 1, 2011 in London, England [Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

Iran's Revolutionary Guards have detained several foreigners, including Britain's second most senior envoy in Tehran, for alleged acts of spying such as taking soil samples in restricted areas, state television reported yesterday.

Reuters reports that it did not say whether those detained were still under arrest. The UK Foreign Office said claims that its Deputy Ambassador Giles Whitaker had been detained were "completely false".

"These spies were taking earth samples in Iran's central desert where the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace missile exercises were conducted," state TV said.

State TV aired footage that it claimed was Whitaker and a number of foreigners taking earth samples in Iran which coincided with a missile test in the Islamic Republic's southern Kerman province.

READ: UK, France, Germany urge Iran to revive nuclear deal 'while it is still possible'

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