The government announced today that it is expelling an unspecified number of Iranians “on security grounds” because of Iran’s death sentence against novelist Salman Rushdie.
It also warned Britons living in Lebanon to leave, saying they are under increased threat following Iran’s severing of diplomatic ties with Britain on Tuesday. Three Britons are held hostage in Lebanon.
The foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, announced the expulsions in the House of Commons. Britain also ordered the closing of the Iranian Consulate in Hong Kong, a British colony, and gave the staff two weeks to leave, Howe said.
His comments came after an Iranian newspaper today said the break in British-Iranian ties will adversely affect the British hostages in Lebanon.
Howe, noting that Iran has refused to revoke its death sentence against Rushdie, said: “We have therefore decided on security grounds a number of Iranians must be required to leave this country.
“We are keeping the activities of other Iranians under very close review,” he added. He said the expulsion orders would be issued shortly. There are about 25,000 Iranians in Britain.
A government source said the number being expelled was up to 30.