Iran claims Peter Tatchell is actually a spy working with MI6

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An Iranian pro-government news outlet has claimed that veteran LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is actually a spy working with operatives from MI6.

Mr Tatchell was detained by police earlier this month while part of a group protesting outside the London HQ of National Iranian Oil Company, campaigning against the persecution of the Ahwazi Arab community.

Police were called when the protesters crashed into a meeting – and Mr Tatchell was detained along with other protesters and photographers. All were released without charge.

However, Iran’s Rayhab News has claimed that the activist is a spy who colluded with MI6 and terrorist groups, to wage war on Iran.

Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, said: “I am honoured and flattered that the Iranians think my efforts are worth commenting on. Clearly, they are rattled by my support for Ahwazi Arab human rights; otherwise they’d ignore me and the Arab cause.

“Similar smears are spread by the Iranian authorities and media against critical journalists and activists, including the BBC Persian Service staff.

He added: “The Rahyab News story threatens to reveal more about what it calls the relationship between the Arab cause and the gay issue.

“It is encouraging that Arab campaigners seem unfazed by them highlighting my gayness and my work for LGBT rights.”

He added: “It is absurd for Rahyab News to suggest that the protest was organised by an Arab terrorist group and that I am holding a placard defending the rights of terrorists.

“Their own photo of the protest shows me with a placard that reads: ‘NIOC = Environmental destruction + human rights abuse.’

“The demonstration was in defence of Iran’s persecuted Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, who suffer grave political, economic and cultural discrimination.

“Their lands were annexed by Iran in 1925. They are rich in oil, yet the Arab population lives in dire poverty. Protests by Arabs are punished with severe repression.

“Last year, the Iranian regime hanged the revered Ahwazi Arab poet and cultural worker Hashem Shabani on trumped up charges of terrorism, after torture and without a fair trial.”