The Crown star calls for release of British-Iranian man
Oscar-winning actress and star of "The Crown" Olivia Colman, British-Iranian actor Nazanin Boniadi, and British-Iranian comedian Shappi Khorsandi have joined a campaign by Amnesty International that is calling for the immediate release of Ashoori, who has been arbitrarily detained in Tehran's infamous Evin Prison for over three and a half years.
Ashoori was arrested in 2017 by Iranian Military Intelligence officials while visiting his elderly mother in Iran.
According to reports, torture was used by the state to coerce "confessions".
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with two years running concurrently.
"It's hard to imagine what must be going through Anoosheh's mind as he sits there day after day in Evin Prison - it must be utterly soul-destroying," said Colman, who serves as an Amnesty Ambassador.
"On his birthday, I'm thinking of his family in London and the ordeal they're going through. It's really important that we get people talking about Anoosheh's plight and the urgent need for more action from the Government on his behalf," the actress added.
Boniadi and Khorsandi also expressed their concern.
"I'm supporting this campaign to get Anoosheh out of jail and back home to his family because I’m honestly outraged that the Islamic Republic continues to use dual and foreign nationals as political pawns," said Boniadi.
"Anyone with family or other connections to Iran is now going to feel incredibly nervous about going back. Iran needs to bring this cynical policy to an immediate end and try to restore international trust. It could start by releasing Anoosheh and letting him come back to his family in Britain," added Khorsandi.
The former engineer travelled to Iran from London, where he lived with his wife and two children. According to a recent Sky News report, Ashoori's extended separation from his family is causing him acute anguish, adding to his failing health, and the risk of catching Covid-19 in the unsanitary detention facility.
"Birthdays are always a painful and poignant reminder that our family has been incomplete for almost four years, and it's even worse when Anoosheh’s birthday comes around," said his wife, Sherry Izadi.
"How much longer do we have to wait and helplessly watch an innocent, family-loving man suffer at the hands of a government that is using him as a bargaining chip?" she added.
Activists say that Anoosheh Ashoori, along with other prisoners such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, are frequently used by the Iranian government as bargaining chips to extract concessions for foreign governments.