Families of Western dual nationals being held in Iran – either in prison or under house arrest – describe waiting anxiously for news of their relatives’ fates.“We have highs and lows,” said Elika Ashoori, whose British-Iranian father Anoosheh is serving a 10-year prison sentence.
She told Fox News: “We have episodes where we are extremely hopeful, where he’s extremely hopeful that something’s moving to the right direction.
“But then everything stops. It’s a continuous mental torture.”
Iran is thought to be holding more than a dozen Western dual nationals: American Iranians, British Iranians, and others with Canadian, Austrian, French or German citizenship. Many relatives describe their loved ones as hostages – innocent people they say are being used by Iran to pressure Western governments.
Anoosheh Ashoori’s family says the retired engineer, who lives in England, had traveled to Iran to care for his elderly mother when she had knee surgery in 2017.
“One day he went out shopping,” said his daughter Elika, who also lives in England. “A van pulls up and they ask him if he’s Anoosheh Ashoori. And when he confirms, they put a bag over his head and push him into this van.
“That’s when basically all our nightmares started.”
The 67-year-old was jailed as an Israeli spy – a charge his family says is baffling.
“It’s all theater,” Elika Ashoori said. “We now know in hindsight that it has nothing to do with us, it has nothing to do with our background or family.
“We just, luck of the draw, got picked, unfortunately, to be pawns in a bigger game.”
She said her father has tried to take his own life twice, after Iranian officials threatened to target his wife and children.
In the U.S., Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged the international community to condemn what he called “the arbitrary detention of citizens for political purposes.”
“Countries that engage in these actions need to know that that cannot happen with impunity and it is truly unacceptable,” he said.
Elika Ashoori describes the British government’s efforts to secure her father’s release as “failed” and insufficient.
“I do feel like we are fighting two battles,” she said. “One is against Iran, and one is to get recognition from the British government and for them to value our lives truly.”
In a statement to Fox News, Britain’s foreign ministry said: “We strongly urge Iran to reunite Mr. Ashoori with his family.
“Our Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access. We are in close contact with his family and continue to support them.”