Lewisham dad-of-two Anoosheh Ashoori on hunger strike in Iranian prison

Mr Ashoori started his hunger strike on Sunday January 23, as part of a #FreetheHostages campaign led by former US hostage Barry Rosen.

British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori, who is being held in Iran on spying charges, is currently on hunger strike in prison.

The retired civil engineer from Lewisham, who is approaching his 68th birthday, has been detained in Evin Prison, Tehran, since August 2017.

Anoosheh Ashoori and wife Sherry Izadi. Credit: Sherry Izadi

He is one of several British citizens, including Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe, currently being held hostage by the Iranian government over a £400 million historic arms deal debt.

Speaking from London, Mr Ashoori’s wife Sherry Izadi said that she is extremely concerned about her husband’s physical health but due to the lack of progress from the Foreign Office in securing his release her husband feels he needs to take this action.

She hopes the hunger strike will bring "global attention to the plight" of those unfairly held by Iran.

Mr Ashoori started his hunger strike on Sunday January 23, as part of a #FreetheHostages campaign led by former US hostage Barry Rosen.

Mr Rosen is currently in Vienna where talks aimed at reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran are currently being held.

The JCPOA is an agreement which was made in 2015 between Iran and seven world powers, the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany.

Mr Rosen, 77, is demanding that no deal be made without the release of dual nationals from several Western countries being held by Tehran as what he calls bargaining chips.

Mr Ashoori was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence agents for alleged links to Israel during a three-week visit to see his elderly mother, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for “cooperating with a hostile state” and “obtaining illicit funds”.

However his family have said this is completely spurious, saying he has never been or had any connection to Israel.

Sherry Izadi, Anoosheh Ashoori, daughter Elika Ashoori and her husband. Credit: Sherry Izadi

Mr Ashoori studied in the UK in 1972, and lived here until the 80s.

He went back to Iran for several years for family reasons, and returned to the UK with his wife and their two children -  daughter Elika, now 35 and son Aryan, now 32 - in 2005. His family has been here ever since.

In April 2021, Mr Ashoori’s legal team submitted a request to the UK government to grant him diplomatic protection, but this has not yet been granted.

His family have said that there has been no indication that the British government will change their tactics to secure  his release and that of the other British hostages currently being held there.

Mrs Izadi told LondonWorld that during her husband’s detention he has attempted suicide twice.

Richard Ratcliffe and Elika Ashoori outside the Foreign Office. Richard is campaigning for the release of his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Elika her father Anoosheh Ashoori, who have both been detained in Iran.Credit: Elika Ashoori

He has also been subjected to solitary confinement, coercive and abusive interrogations without a lawyer, forced confession, and threats to his and his family’s safety.

He has been forced to represent  himself during his trial and is in an extremely vulnerable position.

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: "Iran’s continued detention of Anoosheh Ashoori is wholly unjustified.

"Iran should free all those British nationals unfairly detained in Iran.

“The Foreign Secretary, Minister Cleverly and senior officials consistently raise the cases of Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz with the Iranian authorities and will continue to do so."