The household of a British man being flown out of Iran on Monday in a $6bn (£4.8bn) prisoner swap have spoken of their pleasure at his launch after greater than 5 years in captivity.
Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who additionally holds Iranian citizenship, was arrested throughout a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.
He was sentenced to 10 years in jail on imprecise costs of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s safety.
Mr Tahbaz, who has most cancers, was launched on furlough in March final yr however was then taken again into custody on the infamous Evin jail in Tehran on the identical day as charity employee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was launched again to the UK.
His household posted an emotional assertion to X, previously referred to as Twitter, about his “surreal” launch, saying: “We’re overjoyed and relieved to lastly have Morad and [his wife] Vida free and on their manner again residence after six years.
“We’re grateful to President Biden and his administration for making the tough however essential choice to prioritise the lives of Americans over politics. Thanks for main with braveness and compassion.”
They added: “At the moment, we’re centered on the reunion of our household, the bodily and psychological well being of Morad and Vida, and the trail to restoration of those misplaced years.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was “extraordinarily happy” that Mr Tahbaz’s “horrible ordeal” was over.
The prime minister’s official spokesman mentioned: “By looking for to make use of international nationals as bargaining chips, the regime’s leaders are fatally undermining Iran’s credibility on the world stage. They have to cease utilizing international nationals for political bargaining.
“When it comes to the UK’s involvement, we weren’t part of the negotiations between the US and Iran.”
Mr 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.
However his launch lastly got here on Monday after a Doha-brokered deal between the USA and Iran unfroze $6bn of Tehran’s funds.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband mentioned it was “very arduous” to see Mr Tahbaz “left behind” in 2022 and that his household can be feeling “a combination of trepidation and actual hope and worry” earlier than his airplane took off.
Richard Ratcliffe advised BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “Whenever you undergo that have, you definitely consider something unhealthy may occur on the final minute.”
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty Worldwide UK’s chief govt, slammed the federal government for failing to get his launch alongside Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
He mentioned: “This can be a big aid after what’s been a horrible ordeal for Morad, who ought to by no means have been jailed within the first place.
“We’re delighted for Morad and his household who’ve campaigned tirelessly for his launch, typically battling with UK officers who’ve by no means handled Morad’s plight with wherever close to the urgency and seriousness it merited.
“When Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori had been launched final yr, Morad was grievously let down by the UK authorities, together with with hole guarantees from Liz Truss when she was Overseas Secretary.
“In all these years, we hoped the UK would have considerably raised its sport when it was confronted by the arbitrary detention of UK nationals abroad – but nearly nothing appears 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.
Mr Deshmukh added: “UK officers are nonetheless holding households at arm’s size with inventory solutions and uninformative conferences, being too passive when they need to be demanding consular visits and the flexibility to attend trial hearings, and so they’re not working collaboratively with accomplice nations wherever close to as a lot as they need to.
“The federal government must drastically improve its procedures to forestall extra pointless heartbreak and struggling in instances like Morad’s, and it now must urgently search the discharge of Mehran Raoof, who’s been arbitrarily jailed in Iran for practically three years, and Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who’s equally been arbitrarily imprisoned in Egypt for nearly 4 years.”
The Overseas Workplace has been approached for remark.
In keeping with reviews, Mr Tahbaz had been utilizing digicam traps to observe endangered species, together with the Persian leopard and Asiatic cheetah when he was arrested.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps claimed he and fellow environmentalists had been committing espionage by photographing Iranian army installations.
Iranian Overseas Ministry, spokesman Nasser Kanaani, mentioned: “Happily Iran’s frozen belongings in South Korea had been launched and. God prepared, immediately the belongings will begin to be totally managed by the federal government and the nation.
“With reference to the prisoner swap, it’ll occur immediately and 5 prisoners, residents of the Islamic Republic, will likely be launched from the prisons within the US.
“5 imprisoned residents who had been in Iran will likely be given to the US aspect.”
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 Biden is in impact paying a ransom for US residents.