Daughter of U.S. citizen jailed by Iran says she has lost confidence in US efforts

Madrid (Reuters) – The daughter of an environmentalist imprisoned by Iran said on Saturday she had lost confidence in U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to free her father.

Morad Tahbaz, an Iranian-American who also holds British citizenship, has served five years of a 10-year sentence after being convicted of spying.

He was briefly released to house arrest with an electronic tag in March 2022 when two other dual nationals, including British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, were allowed to leave Iran.

In July his lawyer was quoted as saying he had been granted bail, but his daughter said he was now back in jail.

“I think being told since Biden has taken office that our loved ones are a priority, and then seeing no action – it is hard to hold hope,” Tara Tahbaz told Reuters in Madrid while she was visiting from the United States to see relatives.

She said her family and the relatives of two other U.S. prisoners in Iran hoped Biden would grant them time to explain their stories at a meeting in Washington scheduled for next month.

She said her father, now 67, suffered from prostate cancer and had had COVID-19 three times in jail.

The United States has urged Iran to release Tahbaz and two other citizens, Emad Shargi and Siamak Namazi, who are all imprisoned on espionage charges that Washington says are baseless.

U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel tweeted on Saturday: “We once again call on Iran to cease unjustly imprisoning foreign nationals for use as political leverage and to release U.S. citizens Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz, and Siamak Namazi.”

Namazi, an oil executive, was jailed for 10 years in 2016 on charges of spying and cooperating with the U.S. government. Shargi was convicted in 2021 and also sentenced to 10 years.