LONDON – Morad Tahbaz, a U.K.-born environmentalist who has been jailed in Iran for more than four years, has been released on furlough, the British government said Wednesday.
The Foreign Office said Tahbaz has been allowed to leave Evin Prison and is at his family’s home in Tehran. The 66-year-old wildlife conservationist is one of several people holding both Iranian and Western citizenship imprisoned by Iranian authorities over allegations of espionage. The West says the charges are a sham and claims Iran uses dual-national prisoners for political leverage.
Two high-profile detainees, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, were released in March and returned to Britain. Tahbaz was allowed out on furlough at the same time, but later sent back to prison.
His case is complicated because he holds U.S., British and Iranian citizenship.
Iranian security forces arrested Tahbaz in January 2018, part of wide crackdown targeting environmental activists in the Islamic Republic.
A prominent conservationist and board member of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation that seeks to protect endangered species, Tahbaz was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for America and undermining Iran’s security.
Foreign Office officials said “we continue to work closely with the United States to urge the Iranian authorities to permanently release him and allow his departure from Iran.”