The daughter of UK national imprisoned in Iran has criticised the Government on the four-year anniversary of her father being jailed, saying her family “barely feels British any more”.
The family of Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, staged an “empty chair” protest outside Downing Street on Friday to demand a meeting with Boris Johnson over their “hellish experience”.
The family sat in chairs facing away from Downing Street, leaving one chair unoccupied except for a sign that reads “Prime Minister: why won’t you meet us?”
Mr Johnson later tweeted to say: “On the fourth anniversary of Anoosheh Ashoori’s wrongful detention in Iran, I reiterate my call for Iran to do the right thing and release him immediately.”
The arrest of Mr Ashoori occurred during a family visit to Iran in 2017 and his family said they made an official request to meet the Prime Minister more than a year ago, but are still waiting to speak to him about the case.
Mr Ashoori’s daughter, Elika, 35, said: “We felt British before this happened and now we barely feel British any more.
“Because I feel like this case would have been handled a lot differently had we had a different look, and a different passport altogether that was just British, and our looks weren’t as foreign as they are.”
Sherry Izadi, Mr Ashoori’s wife, said: “It’s been extremely difficult, it’s been difficult emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, every aspect you can think of it has been an absolutely hellish experience, and unfortunately we don’t see an end in sight either.”
She added: “Stop hiding behind the excuse that they are dual nationals, and that Iran doesn’t recognise their dual nationality, because they would not have been taken hostage had they not had a British passport.
“They are there because they have a British passport, they are paying the price for that, so we expect the British government to really step up.”
Also at the protest was Richard Radcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has also been imprisoned in Iran for the past five years after being accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian Government.
The protest was supported by Amnesty International and was attended by the family’s local MP, Janet Daby, who represents Lewisham East.
The family have called for full diplomatic protection to be given to Mr Ashoori as it has been to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and Ms Daby has also written a letter signed by many MPs to Boris Johnson demanding this.
Ms Daby said: “He has not received a fair trial, he has been there being tortured, being held in solitary confinement, and really being estranged from his family in a way in which he shouldn’t be.”
“The Government is not doing enough to protect, him, to get him released, or enough for the family.”
Ms Daby has joined both the Ashoori and Ratcliffe family in calling for the Government to repay a debt totalling £400 million, which has been suggested as the reason for the UK nationals’ arrests.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted in support of the Ashoori family on Friday, calling for Iran “in the strongest possible terms” to free Mr Ashoori.
He said: “On the 4th anniversary of Anoosheh Ashoori’s detention, I call on Iran in the strongest possible terms to free Anoosheh, and all our dual nationals arbitrarily detained, so they can be reunited with their families. Their ongoing detention is totally unjustified.”