The UK government has called on the Iranian regime to release a British-born environmentalist from the notorious Evin prison.
Morad Tahbaz, 66, a British-U.S.-Iranian wildlife conservationist, was arrested in 2018 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
He was granted bail in July, but his family said he has now been returned to Evin prison.
In a statement released on Oct. 26, UK Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad said, “By continuing his horrendous ordeal with these cruel tactics, Iran sends a clear message to the international community that Iran does not deliver on its commitments.”
“We call on Iran to release Morad so he may re-join family in Tehran immediately. We will continue to work closely with our U.S. partners to hold Iran to account, and to secure Morad’s permanent release and departure from Iran.”
Spying ChargesTahbaz is a board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, which seeks to protect endangered species.
He was arrested during a clampdown on environmental activists in January 2018. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for the United States and undermining Iran’s security. His wife has also been placed under a travel ban by the Iranian authorities.
Tahbaz was initially released on March 16 along with two other British Iranian national detainees—43-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and 67-year-old Anoosheh Ashoori—after months of intensive diplomatic negotiations between London and Tehran.
While Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashoori were allowed to return to the UK, London-born Tahbaz was returned to custody after just two days. British ministers said at the time that his U.S. citizenship had complicated the matter as “that is seen in Iranian eyes as also meaning that the [United States] are involved.”
In July, Tahbaz was allowed medical care on another temporary furlough with his family in the Iranian capital Tehran on the condition he wore an ankle bracelet.
Responding to the news that Tahbaz is back in prison, Amnesty International urged UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to step up pressure on the Iranian authorities to secure his "immediate and unconditional release."
Sacha Deshmukh, the charity’s UK chief executive, said, “The foreign secretary must urgently meet with the family to outline the UK’s plans to secure Morad’s freedom, while pushing hard for full and unfettered consular access while Morad remains in detention.”