Freed British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori 'angry' at UK over detention length

Freed British-Iranian Anoosheh Ashoori 'angry' at UK over detention length
Anoosheh Ashoori, who was freed alongside fellow British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe last week, also accused UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson of "opportunism".
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Anoosheh Ashoori, seen with fellow British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe returned to the UK last week following years of detention in Iran [Getty]

One of the British-Iranian detainees released by Tehran last week said he was "angry" that the UK government did not act sooner, and accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of "opportunism".

Retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, 68, was arrested in August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran and jailed for 10 years on charges of spying for Israel.

He and charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was detained for six years, arrived home last week after London settled a £400-million ($520-million, 475-million-euro) debt dating back to the time of the Shah of Iran.

Ashoori told Sky News in an interview broadcast on Thursday night that Johnson, who was foreign secretary when he was detained, ignored his wife's pleas to meet about his case.

"She made many attempts and all of them were unsuccessful," he said, but added that Johnson had now sent them a letter and was "eager to see us."

"I think that it's a bit of opportunism," he said.

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Ashoori, from south London, has always denied the charges against him, and revealed that he had sent a voice message to the prime minister while he was detained.

"I was blaming those who had captured us, I was blaming the British government, why don't you do anything about it?" he told the broadcaster.

"I was really angry and that's why I decided to send that voice message hoping that it would make a change".

Ashoori said he agreed with Zaghari-Ratcliffe's comments during a press conference this week in which she said that she should have been released six years ago.

"She should have been here years ago if that debt was paid."

In a separate interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said the foreign ministry advised the family for two years not to comment publicly on his detention.

"If we had not listened, maybe we would have got a better result earlier," he said, paying tribute to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband for his high-profile campaign.

"If it was not for his joint effort with (his wife) Sherry we would still be rotting in there," he added.