UK foreign secretary marks fourth anniversary of British national’s detention in Iran

UK foreign secretary marks fourth anniversary of British national’s detention in Iran
2 min read
12 January, 2022
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called on Iran to release 'all unfairly detained British nationals,' using language that the families of those detained in Iran hope might be a potential turning point.
Liz Truss said Iran's arbitrary detention of British nationals must end [Getty]

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss spoke out on Monday against the "unfair detention" in Iran of Morad Tahbaz on the fourth anniversary of his incarceration. 

Truss called on Iranian authorities in a tweet to free the wildlife conservationist, who holds Iranian, American and British citizenship and was arbitrarily detained in 2018 on suspicion of spying.

Families of other detainees in Iran have called Truss's comments significant because she called for the release of “all unfairly detained British nationals” - rather than labelling them as dual nationals, which the British government has repeatedly done in the past.

Sherry Izadi - the wife of Anoosheh Ashoori, a retired engineer who has been arbitrarily imprisoned in Iran for more than four years - told The New Arab that using the term dual national plays into the hands of Tehran, because Iran recognises dual citizens as Iranian citizens only.

"By constantly referring to hostages as dual nationals rather than their correct citizenship, European and British governments are not only helping Iran perpetuate the notion that Iran has a right to detain these unfortunate persons, but also reducing their own responsibility towards their citizens," Izadi said.

Izadi said she believed the British government kept using this term in order to avoid responsibility for their continued plight. She said she hopes the British government will now assume full responsibility for the release of UK citizens held without trial in Iran. 

Ashoori's detention, and that of charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, have been linked to a historic debt owed by the UK to Iran.

The New Arab reached out to the UK Foreign Office with further questions about Truss’s comments. They told us to refer back to her original tweet.