Anoosheh Ashoori: Briton detained in Iran tells of jail ‘hell’ after his release

Mr Ashoori endured solitary confinement and often shared a cell with cockroaches and rats

<p>Mr Ashoori was sharing a cell with 14 to 15 other prisoners while at Evin Prison, Tehran </p>

Mr Ashoori was sharing a cell with 14 to 15 other prisoners while at Evin Prison, Tehran

A British-Iranian citizen who was detained for five years in a prison in Tehran has spoken about his experience in the “valley of hell”.

Anoosheh Ashoori, a retired civil engineer, was arrested back in August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran.

The 68-year-old husband and father is now learning to live a normal life again after he returned to the UK last week, on the same plane as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Ashoori recalled the dire conditions he was subjected to while in jail, where he shared a cell with 14 or 15 other people.

Mr Ashoori also endured cockroaches, rats and bedbugs and was subjected to solitary confinement, during which he was interrogated for hours at a time.

“Even when I’m awake, for example sitting in the garden, I sometimes say this cannot be true, this cannot be happening,” he said.

“I must be in my cell and I’m expecting any moment to wake up. So I’m preparing myself not to be too upset when I wake up.

“It’s still quite a challenge for me to be easy with being here.”

Mr Ashoori, pictured with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, on their way back to the UK after being released from prison

His wife, Sherry, added: “He keeps asking permission for stuff – to take mugs, to do very normal things that you don’t ask permission for.

“He’s very sensitive to sounds, I’ve noticed. For example, if we close the fridge door he’ll jump.”

Appearing on Sky News, Mr Ashoori also described Evin Prison as the “valley of hell” - where he not only endured his own suffering but also had to “see the suffering of all the people who are around you.”

He continued: “Each of them in their own different way. Marriages are breaking up. Families are disintegrating.

“And I was reasoning with myself that when I know that I am innocent I am here, so everybody else can be innocent and be there.”

During his trip to Iran in 2017, the 68-year-old was kidnapped off the street, with a bag over his head, and bundled into a van.

He was later charged with spying on Iranian authorities for Israel and given a 10-year prison sentence.

No evidence was presented and Mr Ashoori was denied legal support for his trial.

On 17 March, he was released from Iranian prison alongside Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Their release came after the UK paid back a decades-old debt to Iran for a tank deal which, after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, was never fulfilled.

Both the British and Iranian governments deny there are any links between the two incidences.

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