UK former PM Truss told family of Londoner detained in Iran ‘you’re not my problem’

UK former PM Truss told family of Londoner detained in Iran ‘you’re not my problem’
2 min read
05 April, 2023
The family of Morad Tahbaz, a US-UK-Iranian citizen detained in Tehran, were told by former Prime Minister Liz Truss that he was 'not her problem' after other British nationals were released.
Morad Tahbaz's family have campaigned in London for his release [Getty]

Former UK Prime Minister Liz Truss told the family of a national detained in Iran that he was "not her problem" after the release of two other British dual nationals was secured last year.

Morad Tahbaz’s family - an American-British-Iranian national - were left heartbroken when he was not one of those released from Tehran's Evin Prison when British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were freed last year as part of a hostage diplomacy deal.

Instead, the then-Foreign Secretary Truss called the 67-year-old's loved ones and said he was a "US problem" - due to his American nationality - despite originally promising to secure his release, according to a report by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee published on Tuesday. 

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"Liz Truss did not stand by this [her promised] arrangement and failed to let either the family or US officials know that Morad was not to be released with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori," the report said. 

"It was instead left to senior US State Department officials to formally notify them that Morad had not been released," it said. 

Tahbaz is a wildlife conversationist who was jailed alongside several others in January 2018. 

In 2019, he was handed a ten-year prison sentence in what Amnesty International described as "an unfair trial". 

In March 2022, Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori were released from Evin after what a statement from the UK government described as "tenacious and creative British diplomacy". 

Their detention was widely linked to a £400 million historic unpaid debt owed by the British government to Tehran, which was eventually "settled" around the time when the two Britons were released. 

Tahbaz was released from prison on furlough at the same time, however, he was sent back behind bars after Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori’s plane took off. 

Tory MP Alicia Kearns slammed Truss for  "speaking offensively" to Tahbaz's family.

The chairwoman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the handing of his case showcased "the most heinous failure of a minister".

A spokesperson for Truss said: "Many of the assertions in the report are not true. The US did not help broker the deal." 

"It was always the case that as Morad Tahbaz was also a US citizen, the maximum on the table in any deal with the UK was securing furlough, which was achieved."