Legal team for British-Iranian national detained in Iran submit request for diplomatic protection to UK Foreign Secretary

30 Apr 2021

On 30 April 2021, the legal team acting for Mr Anoosheh Ashoori submitted a formal request for diplomatic protection to the Foreign Secretary. The legal team led by Nigel Edwards QC of 33 Bedford Row Chambers, also includes Haydee Dijkstal of 33 Bedford Row Chambers and Annahita Moradi of One Pump Court Chambers. The request called on the Foreign Secretary to urgently grant Mr Ashoori diplomatic protection in regards to his detention since August 2017 in Iran considering the prolonged and continuous violations to his fundamental human rights, including to a fair trial and against torture, and particularly in light of Mr Ashoori’s development of severe COVID-19 symptoms and deteriorating health in detention.

Under international law, the UK Government may grant diplomatic protection to British nationals, including dual nationals like Mr Ashoori, if it is shown that Iran has committed an internationally wrongful act against Mr Ashoori, that he has exhausted all domestic remedies in Iran, and that he is predominantly British.

Mr Ashoori was arrested in Iran on 13 August 2017 while visiting his elderly mother in Tehran. The father of two was then subjected to solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, abuse rising to the level of torture, and repeated coercive interrogations over a prolonged period. He was charged with ‘Cooperating with a Hostile State, Israel’;an evidentially baseless charge he has continuously denied. From the moment of his arrest, Mr Ashoori was systematically denied access to a lawyer, and was forced to represent himself during the trial proceedings against him. Following a grossly unfair trial before the Revolutionary Court, where Mr Ashoori was subjected to repeated procedural irregularities which violated his fair trial and due process rights, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment with two years concurrent, plus a € 33,000 fine.

The submissions made to the Foreign Secretary raise the gross violation of Mr Ashoori’s fundamental human rights, and the unique position of vulnerability these violations have caused, and continue to cause, the Mr Ashoori in detention. The submissions further address Mr Ashoori’s exhausted efforts to seek all available remedies in Iran to challenge and appeal his unjust conviction, and assert that despite his efforts, local remedies provide no reasonable possibility of redress due to the known and demonstrated lack of independence and impartiality of the Revolutionary Court and judicial officials hearing his case.

Importantly, although Mr Ashoori is a dual national, he is predominantly British with family and other significant ties to the UK. For over three years and eight months, Mr Ashoori has been locked away from his British family and home in the UK, where he has studied, worked, raised his children, and continuously lived for over a decade. The situation has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of not only on Mr Ashoori, but also his British wife and children.

Mr Ashoori’s health, and potentially life, are now at imminent risk due to Mr Ashoori becoming ill with severe symptoms associated with COVID-19. In the week since he first developed the symptoms, Mr Ashoori’s health has significantly deteriorated and he has been provided no medical treatment or attention by the Iran authorities.

In light of these ongoing vulnerabilities and risks to Mr Ashoori’s rights in detention, and the critical situation of his health, the legal team calls on the Foreign Secretary to urgently consider and grant Mr Ashoori diplomatic protection. Diplomatic protection of Mr Ashoori by the UK Government is now not only reasonable, but necessary to protect his rights, health and potentially life.

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