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13 Tuesday, October 1, 2019 18:59

Son of jailed British-Iranian: 'My dad's never been political'


Aryan Ashoori, left, poses with his father Anoosheh after graduating in 2012 [Courtesy: Elika Ashoori] London, United Kingdom - The son of a British-Iranian businessman jailed in Tehran has called on the government of the United Kingdom to take action to secure his fathers release, saying he had never been political.

Anoosheh Ashoori, a 65-year-old retired engineer, was arrested in August 2017 while visiting his mother in Tehran, the Iranian capital. He was bundled into a car and later interrogated, his 29-year-old son Aryan Ashoori, an academic researcher, told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview.Accused of spying for Israels Mossad intelligence agency, charges the family strongly deny, Ashoori was jailed for 10 years after he lost an appeal in July.

His dual nationality is not recognised by Iran and prevents him from accessing the British consulate.Ashoori spent 10 years in the UK between 1972 and 1982, while he studied mechanical and aeronautical engineering. He abandoned plans for a PhD and left for Iran when his father became ill. He took on the familys construction business, Techno Khallagh, developing Roofix, a product for building earthquake-resistant homes, schools and mosques.

In the mid-1990s, Ashoori received a Gold Award from Abbas Akhoundi, then housing minister, for the product.He returned to the UK in 2005, this time to expand his business abroad and for his childrens education.Despite sanctions, he continued to promote bilateral trade between the UK and Iran by representing British businesses interested in bringing products to Iran, said Aryan.

My dads never been political, and he made sure not [to] get involved with government business.For him, politics is like a symptom. If you want real change, you invest in infrastructure, in shelter. If youre a teacher, you dont need to be into politics, because youre already contributing to society. My dad was doing that with his engineering.

He didnt need to be political.Ashoori is one of several dual nationality prisoners in Iran and, according to Aryan, the move is strategic.You have Israels nuclear facilities and stockpiles of weapons, which were disclosed by [Israels nuclear whistle-blower] Mordechai Vanunu in the 80s, and you have US military surrounding Iranian borders.

Where is there room for diplomacy here?One solution in releasing his father lies with British authorities, he said, which should pay a 400 million pounds ($491m) debt to Iran following a cancelled arms deal.He added that the relationship with Iran needs to be improved and suggested trade ties would help.

It also works the other way round, he said. My dads court appeal was rejected the day after Britain took Irans tanker. Obstacles weve faced have correlated with geopolitical events.Ghoncheh Tazmini, an academic at SOAS, told Al Jazeera: We cannot divorce these arrests from the political context, which is at this point a very dense quagmire.

.She added that the UK governments role in sustaining dialogue with Iran is.....


News Code: 371588  |  aljazeera
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