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Covid-19 and Iran’s imprisoned dual and foreign nationals

At least 10 dual and foreign nationals or Iranian citizens are known to be imprisoned in Iran as of April 2020, according to research by the US-based Center for Human Rights in Iran. Despite the fact that many of them have serious health issues only two – Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Aras Amiri – were temporarily released when Iran furloughed more than 100,000 prisoners out of concern for Covid-19. 

Who are they?

  • Anoosheh Ashoori

Citizenship: Iran/UK

Civil engineer Anoosheh Ashoori is serving a 12-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison – 10 years for “spying for the Mossad” and two years for “illegitimately acquiring 33,000 euros” – since August 2019. He was initially arrested in August 2017 while visiting his mother. He is still in prison and recently spoke out against human rights abuses in Iran’s prisons. 

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Citizenship: Iran/UK

Temporarily released

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport while she was on her way back home to London after visiting her parents. She has been temporarily released because of Covid-19 and was told to expect a decision on clemency at the end of Ramadan in May but despite qualifying for release on the grounds announced by the supreme leader, a decision has been repeatedly postponed. 

  • Kylie Moore-Gilbert 

Citizenship: UK/Australia

Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 after attending an academic conference, at which she was invited to speak. Her appeal against a 10-year prison sentence on espionage charges was denied a year later. She has not been temporarily released.

  • Fariba Adelkhah

Citizenship: Iran/France

The anthropologist was reportedly arrested on espionage charges by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran in June 2019. On 16 May 2020, Ms Adelkhah was sentenced to six years in prison. She remains imprisoned.

  • Massud Mossaheb

Citizenship: Iran/Austria

Iranian-born Austrian dual national citizen Massud Mossaheb, who turned 73 in May 2020, has reportedly been detained in Iran since January 2019 on unknown charges. He requested to be temporarily released but was not.

  • Aras Amiri

Citizenship: Iran with UK residency

Temporarily released

UK-based British Council employee Aras Amiri was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in Iran on unspecified charges in May 2019. The Appeals Court in Tehran upheld her sentence in August 2019. She was among those prisoners furloughed because of Covid-19.

  • Siamak Namazi

Citizenship: Iran/US

Iranian American dual national Siamak Namazi was the head of an oil and gas company based in the United Arab Emirates when the Revolutionary Guards arrested him in Tehran in October 2015. He remains in prison. 

  • Morad Tahbaz

Citizenship: Iran/UK/US

Morad Tahbaz has Iranian, British and US citizenship and was detained in January 2018 with at least nine environmentalists from the Iranian wildlife charity the Persian Heritage Wildlife Foundation while studying rare cheetahs. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in November 2019 for espionage charges and was not among those temporarily released.

  • Ahmadreza Djalali

Citizenship: Iran/Sweden

Ahmadreza Djalali is an Iranian-born Swedish scientist, physician and expert in emergency disaster medicine who has been detained in Evin Prison since he was arrested in April 2016. He was sentenced to death for espionage charges based on a forced confession in August 2017. Despite threatening health issues, he has not been temporarily released.

  • Kamran Ghaderi

Citizenship: Iran/Austria

Kamran Ghaderi was the CEO of an Austrian IT management and consulting company when he was arrested upon arrival at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport in January 2016. He was on a routine business trip and had previously traveled to Iran on many occasions for work and business seminars. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for “conducting espionage for enemy states.” His request to be temporarily released was denied.

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