Who is Anoosheh Ashoori? British national freed from Iranian detention
he family of Anoosheh Ashoori spoke of their incredible relief on Wednesday after learning of his release from Iranian detention.
Mr Ashoori, 67, was jailed for four and a half years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison on spying charges, which he denied, but he has finally been permitted to return to the UK.
He is returning to Britain along with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after the UK Government settled an outstanding £400 million debt owed to Iran.
Who is Anoosheh Ashoori?
Mr Ashoori is a retired civil engineer hailing from Lewisham, south-east London.
The father-of-two holds dual British-Iranian nationality.
He spent a decade in the UK between 1972 and 1982 where he studied mechanical and aeronautical engineering before returning to Iran due to his father’s illness, according to Al Jazeera.
Mr Ashoori later returned to the UK in 2005 with his wife Sherry Izadi as well as their two children Elika and Aryan.
Why was Anoosheh Ashoori arrested?
Mr Ashoori was arrested in August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran. He was detained in Evin prison.
At the time, he had lived in the UK for 20 years.
However, he was convicted of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency in 2019 and he was sentenced to prison for 12 years.
Ms Izadi said: “He has never been involved in any political activity but has been sentenced to 12 years in Evin Prison for spying for Israel. His life-long interest has been to come up with innovations to build safer earth-quake resistant homes, for which he won an award.
“He has never held any government posts or been privy to any state secrets. I believe he is being used as a bargaining chip in negotiations between the UK and Iran – sacrificed for a being a British-Iranian dual national.”
How did Anoosheh Ashoori describe his prison experience?
In an interview with The Standard last November, Mr Ashoori’s wife revealed her husband had suffered severe damage to his physical and mental health while in prison.
Before his detention, he had been awaiting a knee operation and extensive surgery on his gums.
It was feared he could lose his lower set of teeth.
Ms Izadi also claimed she had witnessed videos of other prisoners being tortured in the same prison.
“The dual nationals are spared the electric shock treatments, I think, but when those videos of torture were leaked from Evin prison, it was truly horrific,” she said.
“Even though you know this is going on and you know that your loved one has suffered psychological trauma – he was in confinement and did a 17 day hunger strike – when you see it on video, it brings it home somehow.”
In January this year, Mr Ashoori began a hunger strike “in the hope of bringing global attention” to his situation and the plight of those being detained in Iranian prisons.
Ms Izadi had said she feared he had “no hope in hell” of being released.
How have Anoosheh Ashoori’s family reacted?
Mr Ashoori’s family told of their relief following his release.
A statement from Mr Ashoori’s family said: “We are delighted to confirm Anoosheh has been released and will be returning to the UK today after five long years.
“This day has been a long time coming and we are thankful for the efforts of everyone involved in bringing Anoosheh home.
“1,672 days ago our family’s foundations were rocked when our father and husband was unjustly detained and taken away from us. Now, we can look forward to rebuilding those same foundations with our cornerstone back in place.”
Ms Ashoori has joined forces with Ms Zaghari Ratcliffe’s husband Richard in the past and supported him during his 21-day hunger strike.
Their daughters also took part in a joint campaign last Christmas.