The situation of a British woman who has been locked up in Iran for five months over claims she posted derogatory comments about the country’s government on Facebook is “very worrying”, her local MP has said.
Roya Saberi Negad Nobakht, 47, from Stockport, Greater Manchester, was arrested in the south-western city of Shiraz last year for “insulting Islamic sanctities”, a crime which can be punishable by death. According to her husband, who is also British, she made a series of statements online about life in Iran before being detained.
Mark Hunter, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle, said: “I think everybody recognises we are dealing with a very difficult regime here. In any normal country, saying something that’s impolite about the government or the state would not necessarily result in you being thrown in prison for five months, but that appears to be what’s happened here. If so, it’s a development that frankly we should all be extremely concerned about.”
The Independent understands that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has made contact with the Iranian authorities, which has promised to investigate Mrs Nobakht’s case urgently. But diplomatic efforts have been hampered by Britain’s lack of an embassy in Tehran.
“The fact that we don’t have diplomatic representation there makes the issue altogether more complicated,” Mr Hunter said. “What the FCO has sought is consular access to Roya so they can see for themselves how she’s being looked after, because she is in a fairly notorious prison in Iran and, according to her family, has lost 3lb in weight.
“If and when we do get granted consular access, that will be through one of our European partners. That’s what we’re hoping to achieve in the very near future.”
Mrs Nobakht has lived in Britain with her husband Daryoush Taghipoor for the past six years. Both have dual UK-Iranian nationality.
An FCO spokesperson said: “We are aware of the detention of a British national in Iran. We are urgently seeking clarification from the Iranian authorities.”