Iran cover-up: COVID-19 inmates being ‘disappeared’, claims British-Iranian prisoner
Anoosheh Ashoori, 66, a retired engineer who was jailed after he was found guilty of “spying for Israel”, made the allegations in a secretly recorded audio diary in which he describes dire conditions in Evin prison in Tehran. During the course of the diary, Mr Ashoori says several of his fellow inmates were displaying coronavirus symptoms. In reference to any prisoner taken to the facility’s medical centre, he said: “He does not return. Nobody knows any more about his fate.”
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It is just enough for one contaminated person to arrive and the rest will soon contract the virus
Another inmate who complained of symptoms was simply given sleeping tablets and sent back to the cell which he shares with 11 others.
In his diary, provided to The Daily Telegraph by Mr Ashoori’s wife Sherry Izadi, Mr Ashoori warns: “It is just enough for one contaminated person to arrive and the rest will soon contract the virus.”
In March, Iran temporarily released thousands of prisoners from its jails, including British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is staying with her parents in Tehran, having been fitted with an electronic tag – but Mr Ashoori remains incarcerated.
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Mr Ashoori was arrested August 2017 while visiting relatives in Iran, and subsequently tried.
Ms Izadi spoke out angrily against Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s handling of the situation.
She said: “Every time I hear Dominic Raab talk about returning Britons who have been trapped on holiday by coronavirus, I wonder why he is not giving the same priority to those, like my husband, who are held unlawfully in a foreign prison.
“Other countries are doing deals to free their citizens, but the Government that is showing the least action has to be the British.
“It’s as if they have forgotten my husband exists.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We strongly urge Iran to reunite British-Iranian dual national Mr Ashoori with his family.
“Our Embassy in Tehran continues to request consular access and we have been supporting his family since being made aware of his detention.
“The treatment of all dual nationals detained in Iran is a priority and both the PM and Foreign Secretary have recently raised this issue with their Iranian counterparts.”
Iran has been badly hit by COVID-19, with 95,646 cases and 6,091 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
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However, the official tally is hotly disputed, with unsubstantiated claims the actual death toll could be approaching 40,000.
Speaking last month, Dr Anicee Van Engeland, senior lecturer in International Security at Cranfield University, told Express.co.uk problems had been exacerbated by the muddled response of the regime of President Hassan Rouhani.
She added: “It is unlikely that the COVID 19 threat will be eradicated in the short-term, and even the medium-term.
“The authorities were reluctant to impose a lockdown and only did it a few days ago.
“With regard to public opinion: the disagreements among the authorities as to how the crisis should be tackled have been public.
“This has weakened President Rouhani, who is still reeling from the new sanctions imposed by Trump.”
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