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Morad Tahbaz: UK will keep pushing for London-born conservationist’s release from Iran, says minister

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T

he UK will keep pushing for the release of British detainee Morad Tahbaz from Iran, a minister said on Thursday.

The British-American was released from prison on furlough as part of the deal that saw Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori freed from captivity and allowed to return to the UK, but remains in the country.

Minister of State James Cleverly told BBC Breakfast the governent had been negotiating “hard” to free the London-born conservationist.

“The fact is he was born in Hammersmith, he was born in the UK, we have been working hard to secure his release,” he said.

“He also has American nationality, which has in the eyes of the Iranians – not in ours – made his case more complicated.

“We will continue to work to secure his release and, obviously, we work in close co-ordination with the US on these issues as well.

“But we don’t stop, we have never stopped and we will continue working to get his full permanent release and his return home to his family.”

Mr Tahbaz was caught in a dragnet targeting environmental activists while visiting Iran in January 2018. The 66-year-old served on the board of the Persian Heritage Wildlife Association, a prominent conservation group in Iran.

Iran convicted Mr Tahbaz, along with seven other environmentalists including his colleagues, on charges of spying for the US. He was sentenced to 10 years and taken to Evin Prison.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted she was delighted with the release of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Mr Ashoori and said the British government would continue to work for Mr Tahbaz’s freedom. “Pleased Morad Tahbaz has been released on furlough and is reunited with his family in Iran, but this is far from sufficient. We will continue to work intensively to secure his departure from Iran,” she tweeted.

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