Iran has granted bail to British-Iranian environmentalist Morad Tahbaz in a move that offers some hope that the hostage could yet return to his family despite the collapse of a deal between London and Tehran to secure his freedom.
Roxanne Tahbaz, his daughter who campaigns for his freedom, confirmed he is on a “temporary furlough in Iran with an ankle bracelet”, saying in a statement she was glad he could be with his wife and get the medical care he urgently requires.
“However, the UK Government’s work is unfinished. My father is a UK-born national and he and my mother should have been on the flight with Nazanin and Anoosheh four months ago,” she wrote.
“They should be free. Home is not in Iran, home is with their children.
“As the Foreign Secretary campaigns on a promise of results and delivery to the nation, I hope she will stand by her promise to my family and to my father and ensure his unconditional release.”
“The Tahbaz family have confirmed Morad has been released from Evin prison on furlough and is at their home in Tehran”, it said.
“Morad is a tri-national and we continue to work closely with the United States to urge the Iranian authorities to permanently release him and allow his departure from Iran.”
It is understood that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has told Mr Tahbaz’s family the UK could not secure his full departure from Iran because he is also a US citizen, and Iranian authorities are also having discussions with US counterparts.
Ms Tahbaz, who has been campaigning for her father’s release for months, in June accused ministers of failing to keep a dialogue open with her about measures being taken to secure his release.
Mr Tahbaz, 66, a prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020 on vague charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.
“Mr Tahbaz was released on bail and with an electronic bracelet,” his lawyer Hojjat Kermani was quoted as saying by the semi-official ILNA news agency.
This came after the UK government finally agreed to settle a £400 million ($481m) debt to Iran dating back to the rule of the Shah in the 1970s.
But two days later Mr Tahbaz, who also has US citizenship, was forced to return to Evin Prison.
His daughter, Roxanne Tahbaz, has been campaigning for her father’s release for months, and in April staged a demonstration outside the UK Foreign Office begging the government to “follow through on the promise they made to us”.
She told the PA news agency at the time: “We want them to follow through on the promise they made to us, we were always led to believe over the past four-plus years that he was to be a part of any deal they were making, and we were led to believe he’d be coming home as part of that.”