Daughter of British-US national held in Iran to protest outside Foreign Office
he daughter of a British-US national detained by Iran has claimed her family was “misinformed” and “misled” about the possibility of his release, as she prepares to stage a protest outside the Foreign Office.
Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 66, was taken back into custody after being allowed out on furlough last month, on the day charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori were freed.
His daughter Roxanne said her family was led to believe that he would be included in any deal negotiated at the time, alongside the two dual nationals.
But she said her father’s furlough “held no merit”, and he remains “withering away in prison” to this day.
I hope the UK is still working on a breakthrough for Morad and Mehran that we don’t know about
She is planning to stage a protest outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on Wednesday morning, where she will call on Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to “bring my Dad home”.
Richard Ratcliffe, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, said he hopes the UK is “still working on a breakthrough” for Mr Tahbaz, along with British-Iranian national Mehran Raoof, who is also being held in Iran.
He said: “It is always bittersweet whenever there’s a release for those who are left behind in Evin Prison. Nazanin and I remember the feeling – others’ happiness that can feel so bleak, can leave you staring blankly at a wall of questions: ‘Why? Did we not matter enough?’
“I hope the UK is still working on a breakthrough for Morad and Mehran that we don’t know about, and that the embassy is going to get to see them in Evin and ensure they are safe in the meantime.
“I also hope the Foreign Secretary stays true to her word on Nazanin’s release and continues the work to end hostage diplomacy and also holds those who practise it accountable. These games hurt too many lives.”
In March, the UK said it had secured Mr Tahbaz’s furlough, along with the release and return of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori.
This came after the UK Government finally agreed to settle a £400 million debt to Iran dating back to the rule of the Shah in the 1970s.
But two days later Mr Tahbaz was forced to return to Evin Prison.
The FCDO went on to say he had been moved to a residential location in Tehran, but Ms Tahbaz said he was taken back to the prison shortly afterwards.
Ahead of Wednesday’s protest, she said: “Without a shadow of a doubt, Government officials led us to believe that our father would be included in any deal that was being made alongside Nazanin and Anoosheh last month.
“Even the furlough, which was publicly announced by the Foreign Office, held no merit, as my father is still withering away in prison.
The manner in which this has been handled has made us feel completely betrayed – we’ve been misinformed, misled and abandoned
“The manner in which this has been handled has made us feel completely betrayed – we’ve been misinformed, misled and abandoned.
“There’s only one way Boris Johnson and Liz Truss can right this wrong and repair the trust we once had in our Government – they need to urgently renegotiate with the Iranian authorities, and this time ensure that they bring our father and mother home without delay.”
Mr Ashoori said: “I’ve said numerous times since I got back that I can’t fully savour my freedom while Morad, Mehran and others are languishing behind bars after enduring the same travesty of justice I went through.
“I’m going to keep speaking about this until Morad and the others are back – just like my incredible family did for me.”
Mr Tahbaz, who also has Iranian citizenship, was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.
He is a prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.
The Government’s attitude seems to be ‘it’s job done’ now that Nazanin and Anoosheh are back – but this won’t be over until all the arbitrarily jailed British nationals are free and back home
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.
Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, said: “After the euphoria of Nazanin and Anoosheh’s release, Morad and fellow UK national Mehran Raoof have been left behind. Liz Truss has let Morad down and is letting Mehran down.
“The Government’s attitude seems to be ‘it’s job done’ now that Nazanin and Anoosheh are back – but this won’t be over until all the arbitrarily jailed British nationals are free and back home.”
Mr Tahbaz’s wife Vida has also been placed under a travel ban by the Iranian authorities, Amnesty said.