IRAN says it has arrested the person who filmed a plane being shot down by its missiles – as the president says Iranian troops must apologise for the disaster.
The Ukrainian passenger jet was blown out of the sky near Tehran by mistake last week after air defence troops mistook it for a US rocket.
The country initially denied having anything to do with the crash, which it blamed on “technical problems”.
But it was eventually forced to admit its error in the face of growing evidence – including social media footage of the missiles striking the jet.
And Tehran has now announced it has arrested the local resident who recorded the bombshell clip, BBC reports.
The detainee – picked up by Iran's fanatical Revolutionary Guards – will now face charges related to “national security”, it is believed.
But an Iranian journalist based in London who shared the footage on Twitter has insisted his source is safe – and that Iran has the wrong person.
Nariman Gharib said: “They have arrested the WRONG person regarding the #Flight752 In Iran.
“The person who is a source of the video is SAFE and I can assure you [the Revolutionary Guards] are orchestrating another lie.
“They killed 176 passengers on a commercial plane. That’s the real story here.”
It comes as Iranian president Hassan Rouhani called on Iran’s armed forces to apologise for shooting down the jet.
He yesterday vowed to “punish” those responsible after several people were arrested over the disaster.
The tragedy – which killed all 176 people on board – has sparked widespread outrage and large anti-government protests in Iran.
At least 30 people have been arrested for taking part in the "illegal gatherings".
Several state TV hosts have also quit in protest at the false reporting.
And the country’s top diplomat today acknowledged that Iranians were “lied to” for the first time.
Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “In the last few nights, we’ve had people in the streets of Tehran demonstrating against the fact that they were lied to for a couple of days.”
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He went on to praise Iran's military for being brave enough to claim responsibility.
But he said he and Rouhani only learned a missile had downed the flight two days later – raising new questions over how much power Iran's civilian government has in its theocracy.
Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which shot down the aircraft, is answerable only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran: Democracy or dictatorship?
Iran presents the face of a democracy, with a parliament and a president elected by the people.
But the real power in the country lies with the supreme leader – the Ayatollah – and his conservative cleric backers.
The presidential candidates in any election are vetted by a council of clerics chosen by the supreme leader and the judiciary, called the Guardian Council.
This council can also overrule laws made by the country’s parliament.
And it’s the supreme leader, not the president, who controls the armed forces and makes decisions on security, defence and major foreign policy issues.
Ayatollah Ali Khomeini has been the supreme leader since 1989.
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