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  • Writer's pictureAlejandra Gonza

Anoosheh Ashoori released from Iran: Celebration and solidarity with other hostages

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Mr. Anoosheh Ashoori, a British citizen with dual nationality who has been held hostage in Iran since August 2017, returned home to his family in the UK today. Global Rights Advocacy worked with Anoosheh’s family, Sherry Izadi, Elika and Aryan Ashoori, and his partners in the UK, to bring him home. GRA represented the family before the United Nations. Recently the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) ruled that Anoosheh was innocent, that his detention was arbitrary, and ordered his immediate release. We are thrilled to see the family reunited and express our solidarity with other families still hoping for this outcome.

The Ashoori family ordeal started 1,672 days ago when Anoosheh became a victim of Iran's practice of arresting foreign and dual citizens to conduct ‘hostage diplomacy,’ while visiting his elderly mother. As held by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), he was kidnapped, convicted to ten years in prison by unfair courts, kept in solitary confinement away from legal counsel, and endured torture. Iran has refused to recognize his United Kingdom citizenship, and has not allowed him consular or diplomatic visits with the British Government, among other international law violations.

The relentless advocacy by the Ashoori family before the United Nations not only demonstrated the many human rights abuses they suffered, but also shed light on the political and legal context behind his detention and Iran's hostage-taking practices.This is a reality that continues to impact innocent families in several countries and requires further attention from the international community.

As we thank the United Kingdom for working toward Mr. Ashoori’s release and recognize the WGAD’s expert attention to hostage cases, we hope to learn from the process and see more work done to free others. It is imperative to advance reforms in laws, policies and practices, so that we may better prevent, recover, and redress victims of state-sponsored hostage-taking. Five years were far too long and painful to wait.

Before Mr. Anoosheh Ashoori was taken hostage, he was the cornerstone of his family. A father entering retirement, he helped his daughter Elika to build a macaron machine for her bakery, and talked often with his son Aryan on history and life. He was a husband who had plans to garden, take care of his dog, and travel with his wife, Sherry, in their golden years. Now that cornerstone is back, and the family is ready to rebuild their lives with him. Anoosheh Ashoori welcome home!

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