Morad Tahbaz: British-Iranian detainee ends hunger strike in Tehran jail

Morad Tahbaz’s daughter Roxanne confirmed her father - who has suffered health complications due to cancer and has contracted Covid-19 twice while in jail - ended his hunger strike on Monday.

British-US-Iranian detainee Morad Tahbaz has ended his hunger strike in Evin prison where he is being held captive in Tehran, after “increasing concern” from his family”.

Mr Tahbaz, a 66-year-old conservationist and father-of-three, has been detained in Iran since 2018 when he was taken prisoner and accused of spying - which his family has firmly denied.

He was sentenced to 10 years behind bars in November 2019.

The tri-national was born in Hammersmith, London, and is a prominent wildlife expert, hoped to be freed alongside fellow detainees Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.

But after being released on temporary furlough, he was swiftly taken back to prison, as Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori were reunited with their families in Britain.

Morad Tahbaz, who has British, Iranian, and American citizenship, remains in detention in Iran

He commenced a nine day long hunger strike in protest.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Tahbaz’s daughter Roxanne confirmed her father - who has suffered health complications due to cancer and has contracted Covid-19 twice while in jail - ended his strike on Monday.

“He has finally broken his hunger strike,and that’s at the request of my mum and my siblings and myself, because we were increasingly more concerned for his health,” she said.

“He needs quite regular monitoring and treatment which obviously we’re quite keen to have him home to make sure he does have that so that his long term health isn’t further impaired.

“He is back in Evin prison. He was taken there the morning of the press conference last week, actually. He only spent about 24 hours out of the prison that weekend.”

British-US national, Morad Tahbaz, remains imprisoned in Iran.

Ms Tahbaz, a 35-year-old business consultant, who lives in Notting Hill, said she and her family, including her mother who is under a travel ban in Iran had hoped for his release.

“We originally were hoping and expecting him to be on the plane,” she told presenter Nick Robinson.

“Shortly before it happened we were notified that instead it was going to be an unrestricted furlough and a lift on my mum’s travel ban. Since then neither has come to pass.

“He’s still in prison and she’s still on the travel ban.”

Ms Tahbaz, the eldest of Mr Tahbaz’s three children, said her family had been told by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) the situation was complicated by her fathers tri-nationality.

She said: “The Iranian’s chose to see him as an American but it wasn’t up to the Iranians to decide on his nationality, his citizenship, because he was born here in the UK, in London.

Roxanne Tahbaz says her father has been left behind.

“He’s British and that should have protected him.

“Ultimately, he’s stuck in this political chess game as a pawn and no one is really protecting him now as his country has left him behind.

“Being British and British born no less really should have saved him from that fate.”

And she said the family had rejected the FCDO’s advice to keep quiet - in order to keep the spotlight on her father’s case.

“Here we are despite the Foreign Office’s advice to stay out of the press and out of the media, shedding light and trying to garner some support and ask questions,” she said.

“He never should have been left behind.”

Family photo of Morad Tahbaz, as a younger man, with his family.

While she described the confusion around her father’s brief respite from his jail cell as “unsettling”, and added: “The deal that was promised to us was not upheld.

“Statements following the others release saying he was on a furlough and it was all fine and a win were quite devastating.

“We didn’t want people to stop fighting for him because they thought he was home. He’s not home, he’s still in prison.

“He’s still not free and it was really essential to us and to him as well that he will not be forgotten and left there to wither away.

“It’s time for him to be back with his family now.”

A FCDO spokesperson told the BBC they were urgently raising Morad’s case with the Iranian authorities.

They added: “He must be allowed to return home to Tehran immediately as the government committed to doing.”

The government said it has been in close contact with Mr Tahbaz’s family since his return.