Roxxane Tahbaz, daughter of Morad Tahbaz held hostage in Iran. April 13, 2022

Roxxane Tahbaz, daughter of Morad Tahbaz held hostage in Iran outside the Foreign Office. April 13, 2022.

Daughter Slams Britain Over ‘Abandoning’ Father Jailed in Iran


The daughter of a conservationist jailed in Iran began a protest Wednesday at Britain’s foreign office demanding action to free her father.

Roxanne Tahbaz says the United Kingdom government has betrayed Morad Tahbaz, 66, who has Iranian, British, and American citizenship. She alleges officials misled her family over the chances of his release and were not taking further steps to secure his return to Britain.

Roxanne Tahbaz pointed out it was a month since Iran released Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Anoosheh Ashuri, a retired engineer, after the UK paid a four-decade-old debt to Iran of £400 million ($530 million). “My father’s still sitting in prison and my mother’s still on a travel ban," Tahbaz told reporters outside the Foreign Office in London Wednesday.

Morad Tahbaz, who is serving a ten-year sentence on espionage charges after arrest with other environmentalists in 2018, was released from prison on furlough on March 16 after Britain paid the debt, but he was not allowed to leave the country.

Unlike Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashuri, Morad Tahbaz is also an American citizen, which may complicate the case.

Environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, held in Iran as a hostage.

Cheap Exchange

In a commentary Tuesday entitled "Why Morad Tahbaz Shouldn't Be Exchanged for Cheap", Fars news agency affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said recent reports of unfreezing of $7b of Iran's assets in South Korea may be related to the possible release of American nationals detained by Iran including Tahbaz. State-controlled media, including the official IRNA news agency have periodically claimed that a deal has been finalized to release the funds.

Fars linked the Tahbaz case to those of Siamak and Bagher Namazi, dual US-Iran citizens jailed in 2015 and 2017 respectively. "It seems that the price of these two individuals and the third person should be much higher than $7 billion," Fars wrote, adding that Iranians held in the US should also be freed even if the US agreed with the release of the $7 billion.

Fars repeated claims by the IRGC intelligence organization that Tahbaz was connected to American, Israeli and British secret services operating in Iran under the guise of environmental activities to cause "damage to the country in nuclear and military areas." In other cases Iran has swapped detained foreigners for Iranians held in the US for sanctions violations, while Iran has also talked of links between prisoner exchanges and progress in talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.


International human rights organizations and families of dual nationals held by Iran say their detention amounts to hostage-taking to gain leverage.

While the British and Iranian governments have denied any connection between the cases of the British nationals and London’s debt to Iran, Roxanne Tahbaz alleged that British authorities had led her family to believe that her father would be part of a deal and would leave Iran alongside Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashuri. Her father, she said, felt abandoned by the British authorities.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said Wednesday that Iran had failed to honor a promise to release Morad on indefinite furlough. “Continuing his horrendous ordeal sends a clear message to the international community that Iran does not honor its commitments,” the spokesperson said. “We continue to urge the Iranian authorities at every opportunity to release him immediately.”

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