My thoughts are with Nazanin and her family. Like you, I want to see her and indeed all other dual nationals detained, released immediately.
I can assure you that the Foreign Office continues to work hard to assist British nationals detained in Iran and engages with the families of those detained on a regular basis. Support is available to them 24 hours a day seven days a week. I know this issue is a top priority for the Foreign Secretary.
It is unacceptable, as the former Foreign Secretary made clear on 14 March, that Iran chose to continue with a second, wholly arbitrary, case against Nazanin. British Embassy staff in Tehran requested access to Nazanin's court hearing, as they have done for previous hearings, as part of their ongoing efforts to secure her release. Iran routinely denies the UK access to Nazanin because they do not recognise her as a dual British national and view her as solely Iranian. I condemn the inhumane and wholly unjustified decision by the Iranian authorities to sentence Nazanin to another year in prison.
Nazanin lost her latest appeal, and the above sentence has been upheld with no court hearing. Iran's decision to proceed with these baseless charges is an appalling act of cruelty. As the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has argued, instead of threatening to return Nazanin to prison Iran must release her permanently so she can return home.
I am also told that the UK Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access to Anoosheh Ashoori and has been supporting his family. The UK regularly calls on Iran to release all British-Iranian nationals arbitrarily detained, including Mr Ashoori. Liz Truss raised his case on 8 November 2021 with her Iranian counterpart.
Please be assured that HM Government is using every tool in its diplomatic arsenal to secure the immediate and permanent release of arbitrarily detained dual British nationals in Iran. Specific cases, such as Nazanin's, continue to be raised with the Iranian authorities at every possible level, including the most senior. The UK calls on Iran to rectify its dire human rights record, live up to its responsibilities under international human rights law and the Vienna Convention and release dual nationals.
I have immense sympathy for Nazanin, Richard and their young daughter. One struggles to imagine how difficult Nazanin's unjust and ongoing detention is for them as a family. As I have said, the Foreign Secretary has spoken with Nazanin and Richard and her department continues to do everything it can to secure Nazanin's release, and indeed of all British dual nationals arbitrarily detained in Iran. Whilst on hunger strike, Richard met with the Foreign Secretary, Minister Cleverly and senior FCDO officials.
Liz Truss spoke to her Iranian counterpart on Monday 8 November, raising Nazanin's case and indeed that of all British nationals unfairly detained in Iran. Foreign Office officials met with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister on 11 November, including to press firmly for the immediate release of unfairly detained British nationals.
I appreciate that many wish to see the IMS debt paid to Iran. I know that the Government is exploring all options to resolve this 40 year old case, as ministers have reiterated to the House on numerous occasions. It would not be prudent for me to substantively comment on this matter as legal discussions are ongoing. However, please be assured that I have also contacted the Foreign Office regarding the aforementioned debt.
Finally, I welcome that there was a debate regarding Nazanin’s case on 16 November. However, due to prior diary commitments I was unable to attend it, but I will make sure to continue to follow this issue closely.