Nigel Edwards QC is to lead the legal team consisting of Haydee Dijkstal, Rehana Popal, Ayesha Smart and Annahita Moradi, in representing the family and interests of British Iranian, Anoosheh Ashoori, arbitrarily detained in Iran since August 2017.
Mr Ashoori has lived in the UK with his family for many years where he, his wife and his children were educated. He also represented his company in the UK until his retirement in 2014. He visited his elderly mother in Iran annually, and it was on his last trip there in August 2017 when he was arrested, never to make it back home to the UK.
Mr Ashoori was arrested in extremely worrying circumstances and detained by Iranian officials. He was charged the next day with a vaguely worded offence against national and foreign security, 'Cooperating with a Hostile State against the Islamic Republic'.
In detention, he was held incommunicado and made subject to solitary confinement, regular interrogations, sleep deprivation and other ill-treatment. He attempted suicide three times including going on hunger strike for 17 days.
He was detained for over one year pending trial. The Revolutionary Court rejected all the defence lawyers Mr Ashoori proposed, so he represented himself in what appears to have been a grossly unfair trial lacking any meaningful due process. He was convicted and sentenced to an overall period of 10 years' imprisonment (10 years and two years concurrent).
Mr Ashoori is one of a few known British Iranian prisoners detained in Iran. It is thought that the Iranian regime is taking hostages as a means of pressuring the UK government to repay its £400 million debt to Iran, which the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, recently acknowledged.
Our legal team, acting for Mr Ashoori, will seek diplomatic protection as one of their key initial priorities. We will also request that the government acknowledges and treats Mr Ashoori's case as being as high on its priority list as other dual national hostages, and for the government to expressly include Mr Ashoori in any UK-Iran negotiations and deals.
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