Daughter of jailed in Iran Morad Tahbaz accuses UK of snub

Roxanne Tahbaz described her anguish at what she calls the government’s failure to keep dialogue open with her

Roxanne Tahbaz stages a protest in London. PA/file
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The daughter of a British man who remains in an Iranian jail three months after he was expected to be freed has accused the UK government of snubbing her.

Morad Tahbaz, who holds US, UK and Iranian citizenship, was returned to prison after several days of freedom in Tehran, when two other jailed British Iranians, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, were flown home to the UK.

Roxanne Tahbaz delivered a Father's Day card and gift to the Foreign Office, and hoped to meet ministers for an update on his situation.

But when she arrived, she was dismayed that her concerns had been turned over to the consular desk, which said it would pass on the message instead.

“It was incredibly dispiriting,” Ms Tahbaz said.

She described her anguish at what she calls the government’s failure to keep a dialogue open with her.

“Father's Day is the hardest day of all,” she said. “While every day is challenging, special moments like holidays and birthdays are especially difficult for me and my siblings.

“Our father has been unjustly jailed in Iran for nearly four-and-a-half years, but [Foreign Secretary] Liz Truss and the government still haven't informed us over what they're doing to secure his release.”

Ms Tahbaz lambasted what she said were continual attempts to “placate” her and her siblings with “pleasantries and false promises”, drawing parallels between their situation and the treatment of Richard Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori's family before either returned home.

“There doesn't seem to be any sense of urgency — nothing to suggest the foreign secretary and her office feel they need to get my father out of prison immediately,” she said.

“What we've asked for is very simple: the government must uphold the agreement that should have taken place at the time of Nazanin and Anoosheh's release, insisting on our father's immediate release and return home with our mother.”

Mr Tahbaz was a founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species in Iran.

He, along with other members of the group, was arrested on charges of spying for the US and undermining Iranian security in January 2018 and sentenced to jail for a decade.

He was temporarily released in March to be with his wife — who is subject to a travel ban — in Tehran but did not fly back to the UK as was hoped with the other former detainees.

It is understood the Foreign Office has been in contact with Mr Tahbaz's sister-in-law, the family's chosen point of contact, and an ambassador is in touch with his wife in Tehran.

A representative for the Foreign Office said: “Iran has failed to honour their committed to releasing Morad from prison on indefinite furlough.

“Continuing his horrendous ordeal sends a clear message to the international community that Iran does not honour its commitments.

“We continue to urge the Iranian authorities, at every opportunity, to release him immediately.”

Updated: June 18, 2022, 12:50 AM