A British-American citizen temporarily released from prison in Iran only to find himself back in custody two days later is now in a hotel.
Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who also has Iranian citizenship, was originally allowed to leave on the same day last week that charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori were released. and then they were allowed to return to Britain.
We have been in contact with Morad’s family throughout the day and continue to press the Iranian authorities at the highest level to allow him to return home immediately, as the Iranian government has promised to do.
A spokesman for the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: “Morad has now been transferred from Evin prison to a hotel in Tehran.
“We have been in contact with Morad’s family throughout the day and continue to press the Iranian authorities at the highest level to allow him to return home immediately, as the Iranian government has promised to do.”
Britain said it secured Tahbaz’s license, along with the release and return of the other two dual nationals.
This came after Britain finally agreed to pay off a £400m debt dating back to the 1970s that had fueled tensions between the countries for decades.
His lawyer in Tehran said that two days after Mr. Tahbaz was released and went to his family’s home in the city, Iranian security forces forced him back to Evin prison.
Tahbaz, who has cancer, was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.
He is a noted conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.
Tahbaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for the United States and undermining Iran’s security.
The FCDO and the United States are working closely together to try to secure his permanent release.
Relatives had hoped Tahbaz, who was born in Hammersmith, west London, would be released under the deal that saw Ashoori and Zaghari-Ratlcliffe return to British soil early Thursday.
It is unclear whether the Iranians placed an ankle tag on Mr. Tahbaz that they had told the FCDO what was going to happen.
A US State Department spokesperson: “We continue to work day and night to secure the release of our wrongfully detained citizens, including US and UK citizen Morad Tahbaz.
“Bottom line: Iran is wrongfully detaining innocent Americans and others and should immediately release them.”
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the government is working to secure Tahbaz’s return, telling BBC Breakfast on Thursday: “He also has American nationality, which in the eyes of the Iranians, not the ours, made his case more complicated. ”
He added: “We will continue to work to secure their release, and obviously we will also work closely with the United States on these issues.”
Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained on security charges in 2016 by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards at Imam Khomeini Airport after a holiday visit to Iran, where she introduced her daughter to her parents.
She was accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.
Ashoori, 67, was arrested in August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran. He was detained in Evin prison for almost five years, accused of espionage.
Both have consistently and strongly denied the allegations.
His release came after months of intense diplomatic negotiations between London and Tehran.