Iran's Intelligence Ministry has issued a statement declaring that any cooperation with the UK-based British Council, which Tehran believes is linked to the UK intelligence agency MI6, is banned and will be prosecutable. The ministry explained that it has been monitoring the activities of the organisation and was therefore able to act before it could do any damage to the Islamic Republic.
"The UK, which has a long history of infiltration, creating networks and generating propaganda in various countries, was planning to implement a project for cultural networking purposes in cooperation with the British Council in Iran", the statement said.
The ministry's statement didn't go into details about the purported activities that the British Council was planning to carry out in Iran, but noted that by banning the organisation, the intelligence body had prevented UK infiltration of the country's educational system.
Back in 2018, Iranian authorities arrested a British Council employee, an Iranian national by the name of Aras Amiri, who was charged for cooperating with Britain's external intelligence agency the MI6 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Both Amiri and the British Council have denied the accusations. The organisation was forced out of the country back in 2009 and hasn't established an office in the Islamic Republic since.
The British Council was originally established in 1934 with a dual purpose – to promote English language education and British culture abroad, while also combating the fascist ideology at the same time. The organisation has since been sponsored by the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Most Iranian media outlets indicate that the organisation is believed to be tied to the UK's secret intelligence service, the MI6.
Iran is not the only country where the organisation has faced difficulties. The British Council’s offices in Russia were closed in 2007 at the behest of the country's Foreign Ministry. The order was issued due to Russian authorities uncovering that the organisation was violating Russia’s tax regulations.