Daughter of British national held in Iran ‘devastated’ by false hope

Roxanne Tahbaz staged a protest today, one month after her father was ‘left behind’ by the UK government

<p>With her father, Morad Tahbaz, back in prison, Roxanne Tahbaz says her family has been ‘abandoned’ by the UK government</p>

With her father, Morad Tahbaz, back in prison, Roxanne Tahbaz says her family has been ‘abandoned’ by the UK government

The daughter of a British-US national detained in Iran has staged a protest outside the Foreign Office after her hopes were ‘dashed at the last minute’ by the failure to bring her father home.

Roxanne Tahbaz said she was led to believe her father, Morad Tahbaz, a wildlife conservationist, would be freed as part of any negotiated deal with Iran alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.

Mr Tahbaz, 66, was allowed out of prison on furlough last month, on the same day Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori were freed, only to be later taken back into custody.

At her protest outside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Ms Tahbaz told The Independent: “It was devastating and paralytic because we’d been waiting for so long for that news, it had been four years.

“We finally had hopes of being reunited as a family, only to have them dashed at the last minute.”

Roxanne Tahbaz holds a placard for her father outside the Foreign Office

The notice of Mr Tahbaz’s furlough came after the UK government agreed, following years of campaigning, to settle their £400m debt to Iran. But only two days after this news, Mr Tahbaz was taken back to Evin Prison.

Ms Tahbaz said her mother, Vida, had also been placed under a travel ban by the authorities in Iran.

She hoped her protest would encourage action from the foreign secretary Liz Truss to bring back her parents.

She said: “I want her to keep her promise, I want her to bring my parents home. Anything shy of that is not enough.”

The FCDO is working with Mr Tahbaz’s sister-in-law, while in Tehran the British ambassador to Iran is in contact with his wife, Mrs Tahbaz.

Ms Tahbaz said: “We really hope that Liz Truss has heard our pleas – all we want is for her to bring our father home.

“We’re delighted for Nazanin and Anoosheh – we’re truly happy for them that they’ve been reunited with their families. But my father has been abandoned – it isn’t right, it’s a devastating betrayal and it must be put right.

“Our parents must be brought home, urgently and without conditions – we need to be reunited.

“We want to sit down with the foreign secretary and her officials to really understand the government’s plan for getting my father home.”

Morad Tahbaz was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in Iran

Her father, who also has Iranian citizenship, was arrested in January 2018 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison alongside his colleagues on charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.

Amnesty International UK have today launched their ‘No One Left Behind’ campaign, which calls for increased efforts from the government to secure the release of all British nationals, like Mr Tahbaz, arbitrarily detained in Iran.

Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, told The Independent: “My message to Liz Truss is very clear: no one should be left behind.

“It was fantastic to see Nazanin and Anoosheh home, but that should be a clear reminder that the attention and focus that the Foreign Office and the government were giving to the cases of British nationals need to stay at the same level.

Roxanne Tahbaz and Sacha Deshmukh protest outside the Foreign Office, as Amnesty International launched new ‘No One Left Behind’ campaign

“Nazanin and Anoosheh put into focus the injustice for those nationals who are still there.

“This should be the absolute central focus of UK-Iranian relations and the focus of everyone in the British government, from ministers and officials at all levels.”

The FCDO have said they are working with the US, where Mr Tahbaz is also a citizen, to secure his permanent release, as well as pushing for the release of another UK national Mehran Raoof.

Roxanne with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Richard Ratcliffe at a press conference in March

An FCDO spokesperson said: “The Iranian government committed to releasing Morad from prison on an indefinite furlough. Iran has failed to honour that commitment.

“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.”

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