Morad Tahbaz: Daughter of Londoner detained in Iran says he feels forsaken

Morad Tahbaz’s eldest daughter Roxanne said her family was led to believe that her father would be freed alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori.
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The daughter of a British-US national who was expected to be freed from Iran last week says her father feels forsaken by the government.

Morad Tahbaz, a 66-year-old wildlife conservationist has been taken back to Evin Prison in Tehran after being released on furlough last week.

Hopes had been raised that Mr Tahbaz would be released alongside fellow detainees Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, who flew back to the UK on Thursday.

However, he was returned to prison on Friday where he is now on his third day of hunger strike.

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

Roxanne Tahbaz, his eldest daughter, said her family was led to believe that her father would be freed alongside the other dual nationals but this hasn’t been the case.

“He was the only UK born national from the group the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) was negotiating for that was left behind,” the 35-year-old business consultant told LondonWorld.

Mr Tahbaz, who has British, American and Iranian citizenship, was arrested in 2018 during a crackdown on environmental activists.

A prominent conservationist, he is a board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.

Alongside seven other conservationists, he was accused of collecting classified information about Iran’s strategic areas under the pretext of carrying out environmental and scientific projects.

Roxanne Tahbaz says her father has been left behind.Roxanne Tahbaz says her father has been left behind.
Roxanne Tahbaz says her father has been left behind.

He is one of the many foreign nationals who have been held on various allegations of working to undermine the Iranian regime.

Ms Tahbaz, from Notting Hill, said her mother, who is stuck in Iran, also had a travel ban placed on her after her father was arrested.

She said: “I was surprised to see he was on furlough because we didn’t feel at all that he was on the furlough that we were promised.

“We were told it would be an unrestricted one and that my mother’s travel ban would be lifted - and neither turned out to be the case.

“Within 48 hours of arriving at the residence, he was then promptly ushered back to the prison where he remains now.”

Mr Tahbaz was born in Hammersmith, west London and attended boarding school in the UK from the age of four to 18.

The Tahbaz family have been apart for over four yearsThe Tahbaz family have been apart for over four years
The Tahbaz family have been apart for over four years

He spent the summers with his parents back in Iran and then went to university in the US, where he worked and raised his family.

“We’ve been told that the Iranians choose to treat him as an American but the truth of the matter is it’s not up for them to decide what his country is,” his daughter said.

“His country is England by birth and the US by naturalisation.

“That doesn’t make him any less British.

“You would think you would have double the attention with both the US and UK governments involved but I think especially for my Dad he feels quite forsaken.”

She also said her father - who has cancer and has had Covid-19 twice - has not received appropriate medical treatment in prison.

She said: “His treatment was restricted during the pandemic, so he does struggle quite a lot as his cancer required further treatment and monitoring following it.

“We need to get him some medical attention which we feel is appropriate and consistent to recover from those complications.”

Ms Tahbaz said that Nazanin and Anoosheh’s release feels like a double-edged sword as “you can see that there are results but the deal has been done and he has been left behind”.

She added: “It does beg the question what chip is left to play, because the leverage feels like it could have gone now.

“There is some concern about what they can actually do for us even though we were promised that he was going to be included in those negotiations for all of the hostages.”

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

An FCDO spokesperson said: “We are in close contact with Morad’s family, who have told us that he has now been taken back into Evin prison.

“We are urgently raising Morad’s case with the Iranian authorities.

“He must be allowed to return to his family’s home in Tehran immediately, as the Iranian government committed to doing.”