Iran: Gov. spokesperson denies 'cover-up' over shot down of Ukrainian airliner

The Iranian government denied participating in a «cover-up» over the shot down of Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) flight PS725. Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei made the statement at a press conference in Tehran on Monday. «In these sorrowful days, many criticisms were directed at relevant officials and authorities. Some officials were even accused of lying and a cover-up, but in... Еще all honesty that was not the case,» stressed Rabiei. The Iranian government spokesperson also condemned what he described as «the unusual participation of the British ambassador in the recent unrest,» which he said «was not consistent with the defined responsibilities of an envoy» and was «totally unprofessional and unacceptable.» He then warned the UK not to meddle in Iran's internal affairs, noting that the country «has an inappropriate record of interfering in Iran's internal affairs.» The Ukrainian airliner crashed minutes after take-off from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8, sparking a diplomatic spat as Western leaders blamed Iran for shooting down the plane, which Iran denied at first. On January 11, Iran's military admitted «unintentionally» shooting down the plane. According to Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the Iranian air defence systems erroneously identified the passenger jet «as a cruise missile.» Last week, UK Ambassador to Iran Rob Macaire was briefly arrested after attending a vigil for the victims of the plane crash. The vigil that Macaire attended turned into an anti-government protest as demonstrators grew angry over the government's handling of the incident, although the diplomat had reportedly left the event by that point. The UK has denounced Macaire's arrest as a «flagrant violation of international law.» **RESTRICTIONS: NO Access Israel Media/Persian Language TV Stations Outside Iran/Strictly No Access BBC Persian/VOA Persian/Manoto-1 TV/Iran International**

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