Thursday 14 July is a year since the nuclear deal was signed between the United Nations P5+1 and Iran. Experts believe this helped avert a catastrophic war in the Middle East. The key deal makers are strong contenders for the next Nobel Peace Prize.
Just after the deal was signed, the US media criticised President Obama’s failure at the time to secure the release of three US prisoners, Pastor Saeed Abedini, former Marine Amir Hekmati and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian.
President Obama replied that he had personally reassured the prisoners’ families that the US government was doing all it could. It turned out that Iran and the US had been discussing their release in secret side meetings in Vienna throughout the nuclear negotiations. Six months ago this Saturday, their release was secured.
My 76 year old British dad, Grandpa Kamal to my daughters, has been held in the same prison as the US prisoners, on the same ludicrous charges. For years my dad has been denied visitors and been deprived of medical care. This Saturday is 1,900 days since his arrest – he has not seen his family for over 5 years. The Foreign Office told me that during the nuclear negotiations, they did not once bring up my dad’s detention with Iran. I think that was a missed opportunity.
Just like the US prisoners, my dad is a pawn in a political war. My dad was taken without charge or explanation by plainclothes Iranian agents from his Tehran apartment to Evin prison, held for 18 months in solitary confinement and questioned about his links with UK. In 2013 Dad was brought, without his lawyer, before Judge Salavati of the Revolutionary Court who ruled that Dad was guilty of alleged “espionage”, without providing any evidence or explanation or paperwork about the judgement. Of course Dad strenuously denies the charge.
Over the years my dad’s lawyer has made over 50 applications for his release, and he and we keep being told he is about to be released – but nothing changes.
I predict that this October, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to the nuclear deal diplomats, with Dad still languishing in Evin prison. By then he will hold the world record for the length of time a European citizen has ever been imprisoned in Iran.
We must not rest until my dad is back home with his wife, daughter, son and two granddaughters. We have all suffered for too long.
Theresa May, please do everything you can to help free Grandpa Kamal before it is too late.