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UK Has ‘Abandoned’ US-Briton Held in Iran, Daughter Says

UK Has ‘Abandoned’ US-Briton Held in Iran, Daughter Says

Thursday, 14 April, 2022 - 06:15
Roxanne Tahbaz, daughter of Morad Tahbaz detained in Iran, protests for the release of her father, outside of Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) in central London on April 13, 2022. (AFP)

The UK government has “abandoned” Morad Tahbaz, an environmental campaigner held in Iran, his daughter said on Wednesday, a month after two other UK-Iranians were freed and returned.

Tahbaz, 69, who holds British, US and Iranian citizenship, remains in prison in Tehran while Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe,43, and Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, flew home in March after the UK government repaid a historic debt to Tehran.

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 United States and undermining Iran’s security.

The British government “led us to believe all this time that he was to be a part of any deal they were making for the other hostages,” Roxanne Tahbaz told AFP as she protested outside Britain’s foreign office in London.

“Yet he’s still there. He’s been abandoned by his government. And we have still yet to have any answers for that and a plan forward,” she said, holding a poster reading “Bring My Dad Home.”

Britain’s foreign ministry told Tahbaz’s family that when the other hostages were released, Iran had agreed to free Tahbaz on unrestricted curfew.

But Roxanne said that her father, who has been treated for cancer, was returned to Tehran’s Evrin prison within 24 hours of his partial release.

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.

“But we felt strongly that it wasn’t up to them actually, the UK should have stood their ground, he’s a British citizen. He was born here and that should have protected him,” Roxanne stressed.

Campaigners are also calling for British-Iranian labor rights activist Mehran Raoof, who was detained in October 2020, to be freed.

“They have nothing to do with politics. They have nothing to do with governments. These are ordinary people, ordinary British nationals who are held and our government needs to focus on their return,” Amnesty UK’s CEO Sacha Deshmukh told AFP.

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