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British father released from Iranian jail after US prisoner swap

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The household of a British man being flown out of Iran on Monday in a $6 billion (£4.8 billion) prisoner swap have spoken of their pleasure at his launch after six years in captivity.

Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who additionally holds Iranian citizenship, was taken again into custody on the infamous Evin jail in Tehran on the identical day as charity employee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released again to the UK.

Mr Tahbaz, who has most cancers, was arrested throughout a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.

Mr Tahbaz (R, carrying masks) is welcomed on the tarmac at Doha airport after his launch from Iran.

(AFP by way of Getty Images)

His household posted an emotional assertion to X concerning the “surreal” launch on Monday, saying: “We are overjoyed and relieved to finally have Morad and Vida free and on their way back home after six years.

“We are grateful to President Biden and his Administration for making the difficult but necessary decision to prioritize the lives of American citizens over politics. Thank you for leading with courage and compassion.”

They added: “At this time we are focused on the reunion of our family, the physical and mental health of Morad and Vida, and the path to recovery of these lost years.”

He was sentenced to 10 years in jail together with his colleagues on obscure expenses of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s safety.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak was “extremely pleased” that Mr Tahbaz’s “terrible ordeal” was over.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman mentioned: “By seeking to use foreign nationals as bargaining chips, the regime’s leaders are fatally undermining Iran’s credibility on the world stage. They must stop using foreign nationals for political bargaining.

“In terms of the UK’s involvement, we weren’t a part of the negotiations between the US and Iran.”

Tahbaz was allowed medical care on one other non permanent furlough together with his household in Tehran final July on the situation that he wore an ankle bracelet.

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But his launch lastly got here on Monday after a Doha-brokered deal between the United States and Iran unfroze $6 billion of Tehran’s funds.

Mr Tahbaz, carrying a blue shirt, steps down onto the tarmac at Doha airport after his launch from Iran

(AFP by way of Getty Images)

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband mentioned it was “very hard” to see Mr Tahbaz “left behind” in 2022 and that his household can be feeling “a mixture of trepidation and real hope and fear” earlier than his airplane took off.

Richard Ratcliffe informed BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “When you go through that experience, you certainly believe anything bad could happen at the last minute.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, the human’s rights group who campaigned for Morad’s release slammed the Government for failing to get his release alongside Nazanin.

He said: “This is a huge relief after what’s been a terrible ordeal for Morad, who should never have been jailed in the first place.

“We’re delighted for Morad and his family who’ve campaigned tirelessly for his release, often battling with UK officials who’ve never treated Morad’s plight with anywhere near the urgency and seriousness it merited.

“When Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released last year, Morad was grievously let down by the UK government, including with hollow promises from Liz Truss when she was Foreign Secretary.

Roxanne Tahbaz holds a picture of her father Morad , who is in jail in Iran

(PA Archive)

“In all these years, we hoped the UK would have significantly raised its game when it was confronted by the arbitrary detention of UK nationals overseas – yet almost nothing seems to have been learnt.”

Mehran Raoof, a British-Iranian nationwide and a labour rights activist, continues to be being detained in Tehran’s Evin jail after Revolutionary Guards brokers arrested him in October 2020.

Sacha Deshmukh added: “UK officials are still keeping families at arm’s length with stock answers and uninformative meetings, being too passive when they should be demanding consular visits and the ability attend trial hearings, and they’re not working collaboratively with partner countries anywhere near as much as they should.

“The Government needs to drastically upgrade its procedures to prevent more unnecessary heartbreak and suffering in cases like Morad’s, and it now needs to urgently seek the release of Mehran Raoof, who’s been arbitrarily jailed in Iran for nearly three years, and Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who’s similarly been arbitrarily imprisoned in Egypt for almost four years.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held in the identical jail

(Getty)

The Foreign Office has been approached for remark.

According to reviews, Tahbaz had been utilizing digicam traps to watch endangered species, together with the Persian leopard and Asiatic cheetah.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed the environmentalists had been committing espionage by photographing Iranian army installations.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani mentioned: “Fortunately Iran’s frozen assets in South Korea were released and God willing today the assets will start to be fully controlled by the government and the nation.

“On the subject of the prisoner swap, it will happen today and five prisoners, citizens of the Islamic Republic, will be released from the prisons in the US,” he added.

“Five imprisoned citizens who were in Iran will be given to the US side.”

He mentioned two of the Iranian prisoners will keep within the US.

The switch of Iran’s funds beneath the settlement has drawn criticism from US Republicans who say President Joe Biden is in impact paying a ransom for U.S. residents.

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