Detained British-Iranian Morad Tahbaz ends nine-day hunger strike in Iran jail

Detained British-Iranian Morad Tahbaz ends nine-day hunger strike in Iran jail
British-Iranian-American Morad Tahbaz has ended his hunger strike at the request of his family, who were deeply concerned about his health.
2 min read
30 March, 2022
Mourad Tahbaz was detained in Iran in 2018 over accusations of Spying [Getty]

British-Iranian-American Morad Tahbaz has ended a nine-day hunger strike in an Iranian jail, which he began after being excluded from a release deal that saw fellow former detainees freed and returned to the UK.

The environmental campaigner stopped the strike at the request of his family who were deeply concerned about his health.  

Tahbaz, 66, suffers from cancer and has caught Covid-19 twice in detention, his daughter Roxanne Tahbaz told the BBC.

Tahbaz - who was detained in Iran in 2018 over accusations of spying - began the hunger strike after being released from Tehran's Evin prison on furlough for just 48 hours before being sent back to jail, his sister Tarane Tahbaz told the BBC last week.

He was released on furlough on the 16 March, the same day former detained British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were freed on trumped-up spy charges.

It came after the UK settled a historic £400m ($520 million) debt with Iran leading to accusations of hostage-taking.

"He is stuck in a political chess game but as a pawn, but we feel no one is protecting him now because his country has left him behind," Roxanne told BBC Radio, sharing that her family regrets following the UK Foreign Office’s advice to keep her fathers case quiet as opposed to publicly campaigning for his release

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"We have been told by the Foreign Office they are working on it, but it is more complicated because the Iranians chose to see him as an American... we are now trying to shed light and ask questions because he should never have been left behind as a British citizen," Roxanne added.

Former UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt believes Tahbaz's US citizenship is being used by Iran to secure some concessions from Washington.

"The Iranians want something from the Americans before they're prepared to release him," Hunt said. 

US State department Spokesman Ned Price has also questioned Iran's motives, while insisting that securing Tahbaz's release is "an utmost priority".

"Simply put, Iran is unjustly detaining innocent Americans and others and should release them immediately," Price told reporters.

After his 2018 arrest, Tahbaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "assembly and collusion against Iran's national security" and working for the United States as a spy. Tahbaz and human rights groups have strongly denied the charges.