September 24, 2023

A British man is one of five detainees being flown out of Iran on Monday in a $6 billion prisoner swap.

Wildlife conservationist Morad Tahbaz, 66, who also holds Iranian citizenship, was taken back into custody at the notorious Evin prison in Tehran on the same day as charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was released back to the UK.

Mr Tahbaz, who has cancer, was arrested during a crackdown on environmental activists in January 2018.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison with his colleagues on vague charges of spying for the US and undermining Iran’s security.

His release finally came on Monday after a Doha-brokered deal between the United States and Iran unfroze $6 billion of Tehran’s funds.

The Qatari plane to freedom was earlier on standby after the U.S. and Iran were told, according to a source, the funds had been transferred to accounts in Qatar.

“U.S. detainees are being transported to the Qatari jet,” the source told Reuters.

An Amnesty International spokesman who campaigned for Mr Tahbaz’s release said the human rights organisation and his family were “holding back from commenting until we hear that Morad and the others are safely out of the country”.

He reportedly has his wife alongside him on the flight leaving Iran.

The Foreign Office has been approached for comment.

Mehran Raoof, a British-Iranian national and a labour rights activist, is still being detained in Tehran’s Evin prison after Revolutionary Guards agents arrested him in October 2020.

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