Wednesday, January 19

Anoosheh Ashoori said he has lost the legal tender for release from Tehran prison | Iran

Anoosheh Ashoori, the British-Iranian dual national who has been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for more than four years, has had his request for parole and an appeal against his 10-year sentence rejected.

Ashoori was informed by prison authorities that his last legal recourse within Iran had disappeared last Saturday, the same day that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told that he had lost his appeal against a one-year sentence for alleged activities. of propaganda against the regime. She has been detained in Tehran since 2016 and is waiting to know when and if she should return to Evin Prison. She has already served a five-year sentence.

Ashoori was told that the court had rejected the appeal against his sentence a few months earlier, but was only informed on the weekend. He had also applied for parole on the basis that he had served more than a third of his sentence.

Ashoori’s daughter, Elika, said that “the loss of her parole appeal means that we have now exhausted all possibilities and hopes of having our father back with us. The fate of our family is at the mercy of the UK government. They are the ones who will decide if we will see our father in the near future or when he is a 70-year-old man after having wasted a decade of his life in a dirty, vermin-infested jail. “

It seems more than a coincidence that the two most prominent British-Iranian detainees in Iran suffered such major legal setbacks on the same day.

The Iranians may be pressuring the UK to revive an aborted prisoner swap, or seeking to strengthen their bargaining hand before talks with the United States resume.

His lawyers in the UK also revealed that they are still waiting after more than six months to find out from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office if they will accept his request to grant him diplomatic protection in the same way as the previous Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, hit Zaghari. Ratcliffe protection.

The status would in theory elevate the case beyond consular matter to one between two states. The current foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has written to the family to tell them that the case is still under examination.

Ashoori’s wife, Sherry Izadi, said the Iranians have openly linked the release of British citizens with dual citizenship to the payment of a £ 400 million debt to Iran by the British government stemming from a deal for Chieftain tanks in the 1970s. “The settlement of this debt has become so monumentally important to the Iranians that they justify their actions by arguing that other countries are holding Iranian assets hostage.”

He claimed that the FCDO could argue that “paying off this debt will only encourage Iran to take more hostages or the Iranians will spend the money on their own nefarious plans. In my opinion, the truth is a debt and must be paid, especially since the British courts have ruled in favor of Iran. “

She claimed that “the two governments have chosen to indulge in long-term blame games and bargain with human lives for financial gain.”

Nigel Edwards QC, the lawyer who acts for Ashoori on a pro bono basis, said the Foreign Office has repeatedly asked the family to prove their client was predominantly British, including the date of his naturalization, the place and the language. of their education. and the source of your income.

He added that “everything that was needed on a trial basis was already in the hands of the British government through government departments,” and insisted: “by any metric, Anoosheh’s predominant nationality is British.”

Kylie Moore-Gilbert, the British-Australian scholar, who was released from Iran in November 2020 in a prisoner swap, said Iranian authorities look “exclusively negatively” on British prisoners. She said that “this may be one of the reasons why the UK has not done much to bring its citizens from Iran home in contrast to other countries.”

He said Iranians have a long memory of the British role in the “Great Game” with Russia in the 19th century and the British role in the 1959 coup that toppled then-Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.

She revealed that after two months of her questioning in Evin Prison, the guards gave her the option of calling the British or Australian embassy. She said that “the interrogators told me that we strongly recommend that you call the Australians because we have problems with the British. Don’t go, it will be worse. “

She called for a more coordinated approach by nations to summon state hostages and punish countries that implement the practice.

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