Family of British-Iranian man jailed in Iran calls charges laughable

Anoosheh Ashoori was one of three people handed lengthy sentences for security and spying charges by Tehran

FILE PHOTO: A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Persian Gulf, Iran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo
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The family of a retired British businessman who was jailed by Iran has dismissed claims that he had ties to  Israeli Mossad spy agency as laughable.

Anoosheh Ashoori, 65, was jailed for 10 years on espionage charges and two years for acquiring illegitimate wealth after allegedly being caught with €33,000 (Dh121,215), it was announced on Tuesday.

Gholamhossein Esmaeili, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary, said the businessman “had been connected to the Mossad and had relayed a lot of intelligence to that country”.

The businessman's family told The Times that he had been arrested in August 2017 and sentenced several months before the news was made public today.

His daughter, Elika, said the family was surprised that the authorities in Tehran had made his sentence public.

Mr Ashoori was one of three people handed lengthy sentences on security and spying charges, Mr Esmaeili told the state-owned Tasnim news agency on Tuesday.

He said Ali Johari and Aras Amiri, an Iranian national who was working for the British Council in London, were jailed in Iran for allegedly spying on the country.

Ms Amiri was detained in March last year when she returned to Iran to visit her elderly grandmother, and the British Council firmly rejects the accusations against her.

"We have been supporting the family of British-Iranian dual national Mr Ashoori since the start of his detention and our embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access," a British Foreign Office spokesman said.

"The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and we raise their cases at the most senior levels. We urge Iran to let them be reunited with their families."

British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed for five years in 2016 on spying charges.

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ms Amiri are being held in  the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

Tension between Britain and Iran are rising, as Tehran continues to hold the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which was seized from the UK on July 19.