Morad Tahbaz, an environmental campaigner held in Iran, has ended a nine-day hunger strike, his daughter said Tuesday, reiterating his family’s frustration with the UK government’s handling of the case.
Tahbaz, 69, who holds British, US and Iranian citizenship, remains in prison in Tehran while two other UK-Iranians -- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori -- were released and flew home earlier this month.
His daughter, Roxanne Tahbaz, said relatives were told by the foreign ministry in London that Iran had agreed to release him on unrestricted furlough and that his wife would be allowed to travel there to visit him.
“Since then, neither has come to pass – he’s still in prison, and she’s still on the travel ban,” Roxanne Tahbaz told BBC radio.
Roxanne said his family had pleaded with him to break the strike because of growing concern for his health. He ended the hunger strike on Monday.
Tahbaz initially refused food in protest at being returned to jail following a confused 48 hours in which he was allowed to his family home in Tehran, then sent to a hotel before finally returning to jail.
She said her father had initially been released from Tehran’s Evin prison but only for about 24 hours.
Following his return to jail, her father began a hunger strike at the start of last week but ended it Monday at the request of relatives over health concerns, Roxanne said.
Tahbaz was doing conservation work when he was held in Iran in January 2018.
He was accused of collecting classified information about Iran's strategic areas under the pretext of carrying out environmental and scientific projects.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.
Roxanne said her family regretted following the UK Foreign Office’s advice to let it pursue quiet diplomacy rather than campaign for his release.
“Ultimately he’s stuck in this political chess game, but as a pawn, and we feel that no-one’s really protecting him now because this country’s left him behind,” the Guardian quoted her as saying.
“It was essential to us and to him that he was not forgotten.”
A foreign ministry spokesperson said officials were “urgently raising” Tahbaz’s case with Iranian authorities but said his case was being complicated by Iran considering him American.