Family of Brit jailed in Iran to meet UK Foreign Secretary

Family of dual national Brit jailed in Iran to meet with UK Foreign Secretary
3 min read
03 November, 2021
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has agreed to meet with the family of Anoosheh Ashoori, who is serving a 10-year jail sentence in Iran, on allegedly false charges.
Anoosheh Ashoori has served four years of a ten-year sentence [Getty]

The family of a British-Iranian man imprisoned in Tehran is to meet with UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, to discuss extending him his diplomatic protection. 

Anoosheh Ashoori’s family is requesting that the diplomatic protection given to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is also jailed in Iran, is now provided to their father and husband. 

Ashoori is serving a 10-year sentence in Evin prison for espionage, a charge often doled out to dual and foreign nationals arrested in Iran.

The planned meeting comes as Richard Ratcliffe, wife of Nazanin, continues his hunger strike outside the UK Foreign Office in London, which entered its 11th day on Wednesday. 

Anoosheh Ashoori’s son, Aryan, has now joined Richard in his hunger strike. 

“Camping outside @FCDOGovUK with Richard Ratcliffe tonight on the 11th day of his #HungerStrike. 2°c, White Hall, London. UK foreign policy reduced us to homelessness. We're still strong,” Aryan posted to his Twitter account.

It is widely believed that the two British citizens are being held by Iran in an effort to pressure the UK government into repaying a debt of £400 million, which dates back to the 1970s.

Richard Ratcliffe is urging the Johnson government to pay the money to secure the release of his wife and other British nationals held in Iran. 

Although the two campaigns are seeking similar goals, supporters of Ashoori have pointed alleged media bias toward the Zaghari-Ratcliffe case. 

On her Twitter account, Elika Ashoori, the daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori, has railed against the use of the term “other dual nationals”, and demanded that politicians and news outlets call her father by his name. 

“The unequal treatment of human beings by politicians & media needs to stop. Anoosheh Ashoori is NOT the “other” dual national. Say his name,” she wrote on Twitter.

Elika Ashoori's statement came after the Foreign Office had at first said that the Ashoori family could meet with Middle East Minister James Cleverly and a group of lawyers working on the case, despite the fact that Foreign Minister Truss had met with Richard Ratcliffe. 

Analysis
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Talks between the Ashoori family and Truss are expected to include a discussion about recent remarks made by Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Abdollahian claimed that Truss had withdrawn from a deal that would have resulted in a prisoner swap through which Ashoori and Zaghari-Ratcliffe could have been freed.

He went on to claim that the US insisted at the last minute that the exchange of prisoners be conditional to Iran’s return to nuclear talks. 

“We consider the issue of prisoners to be humanitarian and we do not want this issue to be tied to the nuclear talks,” Abdollahian reportedly told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on a phone call.

The UK government has not commented on the Iranian minister's claims.