Anoosheh Ashoori: Family tells of torture inside Evin prison after ‘demoralising’ meeting with Liz Truss

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Anoosheh Ashoori: Family tells of torture inside Evin prison after ‘demoralising’ meeting with Liz Truss
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The wife of a Briton detained in Iran’s notorious Evin jail has shared her fears for her husband following “frustrating” talks with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday.

Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, has been imprisoned for four and a half years on spying charges, which he denies, and claims he was forced to sign confessions under torture while behind bars.

The businessman, of Lewisham, south east London, also told his family he has endured forced sleep deprivation and solitary confinement.

His wife Sherry Izadi, 58, described the meeting with Ms Truss as the most fruitless yet and said she dreads giving the news to her husband who is not even half way through his 12-year prison sentence in Tehran.

Mr Ashoori’s family are calling on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to give him the same diplomatic protection as that granted to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Anoosheh Ashoori and his wife Sherry Izadi with their rescue dog Romeo (Sherry Izadi)
Anoosheh Ashoori and his wife Sherry Izadi with their rescue dog Romeo (Sherry Izadi)

On Thursday Ms Izadi met with Ms Truss, FCDO Minister James Cleverly and FCDO officials in the hope of highlighting his plight.

But she left disappointed when the meeting produced no results but to confirm “talks are ongoing”. She now faces a fifth Christmas without her partner of 40 years.

“It was one of the most depressing meetings I have ever had. Not a single ray of hope,” Ms Izadi told the Evening Standard.

Mr Ashoori went to the same school as his wife’s brother and the couple began dating in 1981 (Sherry Izadi)
Mr Ashoori went to the same school as his wife’s brother and the couple began dating in 1981 (Sherry Izadi)

“I dread giving this news to Anoosheh. He is going to ring me and ask what’s happening and I have to tell him nothing.”

Ms Izadi told of her pain after seeing leaked videos emerge of other prisoners tortured and given electric shock treatments at her husband’s jail.

“The dual nationals are spared the electric shock treatments, I think, but when those videos of torture were leaked from Evin prison, it was truly horrific,” she said.

“Even though you know this is going on and you know that your loved one has suffered psychological trauma - he was in confinement and did a 17 day hunger strike - when you see it on video, it brings it home somehow.”

Sherry said the thing she looks forward to most is holding her husband’s hand (Sherry Izadi)
Sherry said the thing she looks forward to most is holding her husband’s hand (Sherry Izadi)

Ms Izadi said the family were not updated on her husband’s diplomatic protection and the Government could not tell them about ongoing talks in relation to its debt repayment to Iran.

The UK owes Iran £400m from a court case dating back to the 1970s and Iran has said its payment would help with the release of British-Iranian detainees.

She said the family also feel ignored and overlooked by the Prime Minster who has so far only posted a single tweet about their plight.

“My husband is in this predicament because of his British passport and he is let down by the very Government that is supposed to be protecting him.”

Mr Ashoori’s physical and mental health has severely suffered at the prison where he is denied the most basic checks.

Before his detention, the pensioner was awaiting a knee operation and extensive surgery on his gums and could now lose his lower set of teeth.

“There is no prospect of it getting any better, there is no prospect of freedom in sight, there is no prospect of release,” Ms Izadi said.

“If I want to be practical, I am looking at my husband being there another six years. To think of him coming out an old man in his 70s is unimaginably painful I try not to think about it. That is why I live my life day by day.”

On the things she misses most, Ms Izadi said its “the very basic things” and how she is most looking forward to walking hand in hand in the park with her husband while walking their rescue dog Romeo.

In her fight for his freedom, she has joined forces with Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe’s husband Richard and supported him during his 21-day hunger strike.

Their daughters took part in a joint campaign last Christmas and hope to do another with Richard “very soon.”

Ms Izadi said: “I have had nothing but kindness from Richard. I am grateful for all the help and I sincerely hope our families will be home again soon.”

The FCDO called Iran’s detention of Mr Ashoori “wholly unjustified”.

“We call on Iran to end his suffering and allow him to return home to be reunited with his wife and children,” a spokesperson said.“The Foreign Secretary raised Anoosheh’s case with the Iranian Foreign Minister on November along with the cases of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Morad Tahbaz, and will continue to do so.”

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