Morad Tahbaz has been taken back to Evin Prison fewer than 48 hours after British-Iranian hostages Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were released, his family have said. The conservationist was reportedly taken from the family home in Tehran in a black car under armed guard, while his wife looked on in tears.
The 66-year-old conservationist was released on furlough on Wednesday at the same time as his fellow detainees were placed on a plane home to the UK. Tahbaz has British, Iranian and American citizenship but was born in London; his family said they were “devastated” he had not been freed outright alongside his compatriots.
Nevertheless, the British government had hailed Tahbaz’s furlough as a win, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss calling the releases “the result of tenacious, creative British diplomacy... Our officials held a last round of negotiations to sign off an agreement allowing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to return to the UK, and Morad Tahbaz to be released on furlough to his house in Tehran.”
If this was indeed the deal, then Tehran has reneged on a part of it less than two days later. A member of the Tahbaz family told the media on Friday: “The furlough negotiated by the UK government with the Iranians was just a cover so the UK could free the other two British-Iranians, then enjoy a victory lap.
“The visit was first for 10 hours and then extended to 24 hours and finally to 48 hours. It was never a proper furlough, but a short family visit.”
Tahbaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison in November 2019. The Iranian regime and judiciary do not recognize dual nationality and regard him as an American, and efforts by the British Ambassador to Tehran to visit him have failed.