Anoosheh Ashoori: daughter of British-Iranian jailed in Iran accuses UK of neglect

Elika Ashoori expresses ‘deep disappointment’ that her father’s case remains largely unpublicised

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori. Free Nazanin Campaign via AP; image provided by family
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The daughter of a British-Iranian engineer detained in Tehran’s Evin jail has criticised the UK government for failing to raise her father’s case publicly.

Anoosheh Ashoori's situation stands in marked contrast to that of British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, whose name and plight are widely recognised.

Elika Ashoori’s plea came after UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's "torturous" treatment by Iran in a BBC interview on Sunday but did not allude to Mr Ashoori directly.

Instead Mr Raab used the term “other dual nationals”, three days after Ms Ashoori formally requested officials cease its use.

In a video on Twitter she spoke of her “deep disappointment” at the decision and asked what it would take for the UK Foreign Office to give her father the same publicity as Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

“My dad ... is 67 years old. He's showing all signs of Covid in Evin prison. He has not been granted medical furlough. He has no access to medical care or basic hygiene. How much closer to death does he have to get for the British government and the media to be interested or give his life value?” she said.

Citing reports on Sunday in Iranian media that a £400 million ($552m) debt deal was under way to release Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Ms Ashoori asked why her father's name was not mentioned.

She accused the UK government of “sheer neglect” and of abrogating responsibility for the lives of all detained dual citizens.

Mr Ashoori was detained in August 2017 after travelling to Iran to visit his mother. He was convicted nearly a year later of spying for Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, in line with a pattern of long jail terms for dual citizens  who critics say are later used as pawns of the regime for prisoner exchanges and other diplomatic horse-trading.

Mr Ashoori's family believe his fate is tied to a decades-old £400m debt owed by the UK following an aborted deal to sell tanks to the then-shah of Iran. Delivery was scrapped after the 1979 revolution but the money was not repaid.

Ms Ashoori’s wish that her father be named publicly was unheeded by UK Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly.

“Nazanin and the others that are held in arbitrary detention should not be used as political leverage,” Mr Cleverly said on Monday, dispelling reports that an arrangement for their release had been made.

“Ultimately, what we’ve said is the debt at the moment remains unresolved but that is separate to the incarceration of British dual nationals,” he said.

“We have always made the point that their incarceration is illegitimate, it’s unfounded and their release is entirely in the hands of the Iranian regime – and we demand that they are released.”

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