Daughter of Briton jailed in Iran says Father’s Day is ‘the hardest day of all’

Distraught Roxanne Tahbaz has said attempts to get the bottom of her father’s case have been ‘incredibly dispiriting’ as he remains jailed in Iran.

17 June 2022

The daughter of a British man who remains jailed in Iran said Father’s Day is “the hardest day of all” as she accused ministers of snubbing her over his case.

Morad Tahbaz, 66, was returned to custody after being allowed out on furlough on the day Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and fellow dual national Anoosheh Ashoori were freed in March.

His daughter Roxanne Tahbaz delivered a Father’s Day card and gift to the Foreign Office on Thursday, hoping to meet with ministers and be updated on his situation.

But when she arrived, she was dismayed that her concerns were allegedly turned over to an official from the consular desk, who said they would pass on the message instead.

“It was incredibly dispiriting,” Ms Tahbaz said.

Ahead of the holiday on Sunday, Ms Tahbaz voiced her anguish over the alleged failure to keep a dialogue open with her about measures being taken to secure his release.

“Father’s Day is the hardest day of all,” she said.

“While every day is challenging, special moments like holidays and birthdays are especially difficult for me and my siblings.

“Our father has been unjustly jailed in Iran for nearly four-and-a-half years, but Liz Truss and the Government still haven’t informed us over what they’re doing to secure his release.”

Ms Tahbaz rebuked what she said felt like continual attempts to “placate” her and her siblings with “pleasantries and false promises”, drawing parallels between their situation and the treatment of Richard Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori’s family before either returned home.

Roxanne Tahbaz has said Father’s Day is ‘the hardest day of all’ (Richard Presley/Amnesty UK/PA)

“There doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency – nothing to suggest the Foreign Secretary and her office feel they need to get my father out of prison immediately,” she said.

“On Thursday, Amnesty accompanied me as I took a Father’s Day card and gift to the Foreign Office.

“To our dismay, neither the Foreign Secretary nor a minister would meet us, instead we were greeted by another member of their team who said they’d pass on our concerns.

“It feels like the Government continually attempts to placate us with pleasantries and false promises, just as they did with Richard Ratcliffe and the family of Anoosheh Ashoori.

“What we’ve asked for is very simple, the Government must uphold the agreement that should have taken place at the time of Nazanin and Anoosheh’s release, insisting on our father’s immediate release and return home with our mother.”

It is understood the Foreign Office has been in contact with Mr Tahbaz’s sister-in-law, the family’s chosen point of contact, and an ambassador is in touch with his wife in Tehran.

Roxanne Tahbaz has been campaigning for her father’s release for months (Richard Presley/Amnesty UK/PA)

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “Iran has failed to honour their committed to releasing Morad from prison on indefinite furlough.

“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.”

In March, the UK said it had secured Mr Tahbaz’s furlough, along with the release and return of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori.

This came after the UK Government finally agreed to settle a £400 million debt to Iran dating back to the rule of the Shah in the 1970s.

But two days later Mr Tahbaz, a tri-national wildlife conservationist, was forced to return to Evin Prison.

Mr Tahbaz, a prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.

Ms Tahbaz has been campaigning for her father’s release for months, and in April staged a demonstration outside the Foreign Office begging the Government to “follow through on the promise they made to us”.

She told the PA news agency at the time: “We want them to follow through on the promise they made to us, we were always led to believe over the past four-plus years that he was to be a part of any deal they were making, and we were led to believe he’d be coming home as part of that.”

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