Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement that “we are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities following reports of the arrest of a British-Iranian dual national.”
The West has accused Iran of using foreign citizens of Iranian descent as bargaining chips in dealings with other countries ever since the 1979 revolution. At least 30 dual citizens are believed to have been arrested by the Revolutionary Guards since the nuclear agreement was reached three years ago.
News of Mr. Edalat’s arrest comes as the leaders of Britain, France and Germany are scrambling to preserve the nuclear agreement, which Mr. Trump has called “the worst deal” ever. He has threatened to effectively scuttle the agreement on May 12, when under an American law he must renew waivers on nuclear-related American sanctions against Iran.
Increasingly bitter over what they regard as American treachery over the nuclear issue, Iranian officials have said they will not renegotiate the agreement, which provides verifiable guarantees that Iran will not acquire nuclear arms in exchange for an end to its economic isolation.
Mr. Edalat did not appear to be an obvious target for suspicion by the Iranian authorities. He is considered an outspoken opponent of American-led efforts to ostracize Iran. He helped found the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran, an advocacy organization.
In protest of Mr. Trump’s travel ban on mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, the professor stopped submitting research papers to conferences in the United States, the Center for Human Rights in Iran said.
Newsletter Sign Up
Thank you for subscribing.
An error has occurred. Please try again later.
You are already subscribed to this email.
It also said that his family in Iran had sought to post bail for him but that he objected, arguing that he was innocent and should be cleared of any charges.
“He remains detained as of today,” the group said.
At least two dual citizens of Britain and Iran have been imprisoned by the Iranian authorities on vaguely defined charges of espionage. Kamran Foroughi, a civil engineer, has been held since 2011. Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a researcher for the Thomson Reuters Foundation charity, has been held since 2016.
Speculation has intensified in recent months that freedom for the British-Iranians may be tied to a longstanding legal dispute between Britain and Iran over Iran’s 1976 purchase of British tanks that were never delivered. Britain has said that it owes Iran up to 300 million pounds, or roughly $418 million, but that the precise sum has not been negotiated.
A similar financial dispute over an old arms deal between Iran and the United States appeared to play a role in the 2016 release of four Americans held by the Iranians. On the same day the nuclear deal took effect, $400 million in cash was delivered to Iran by the United States.
American critics of Iran called it a ransom payment, which President Barack Obama denied. Still, the payment became another element in Mr. Trump’s denunciations of the Iran nuclear deal. Mr. Trump also has vowed to never pay for the release of other Americans imprisoned in Iran.
At least five are known to be held, including four of Iranian descent. They are: Siamak Namazi, a public policy scholar and business executive, and his father, Baquer Namazi, a former Unicef diplomat; Karan Vafadari, an art dealer; Morad Tahbaz, an environmental activist; and Xiyue Wang, a Princeton University graduate student. A sixth American, Robert A. Levinson, a retired F.B.I. agent, vanished in Iran in 2007.