Urgent Action: Jailed Dual National Denied Dental Care (Iran: UA 66.20)
June 11, 2020
Dual British-Iranian national and retired engineer, Anoosheh Ashoori, is serving a lengthy prison sentence after a grossly unfair trial that relied on torture-tainted “confessions” to convict him of “cooperating with a hostile state against the Islamic Republic” and obtaining “illicit funds”. He is being denied transfer to a dental facility outside prison for the specialized care he urgently needs.
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Head of Judiciary Ebrahim Raisi c/o H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Dear Mr. Ebrahim Raisi,
British-Iranian retired engineer Anoosheh Ashoori, aged 66, is held in Tehran’s Evin prison after being sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment in September 2018 following a grossly unfair trial. He was convicted of “cooperating with a hostile state against the Islamic Republic”, an overly broad and vague charge that contravenes the principle of legality and obtaining “illicit funds”. He has denied both charges. In July 2019, his conviction and sentence were upheld by a higher court on appeal. Under Iran’s sentencing guidelines, he is required to serve 10 years in prison. Anoosheh Ashoori filed a request for judicial review in February 2020, which is pending before the Supreme Court.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran’s prisons, Anoosheh Ashoori has been held in a room with 12 others in conditions he described to his family as “unhygienic” with insufficient access to sanitizing items, masks and gloves. Anoosheh Ashoori has several medical conditions and takes regular medication for cholesterol and prostate-related health concerns. According to the World Health Organization, some people are at particular risk of severe illness or death from contracting COVID-19, including older people and those who have underlying medical conditions. Prior to his detention, Anoosheh Ashoori had extensive dental work done including surgeries on his gums, which require ongoing specialized dental care unavailable in prison. Despite this, prison authorities have refused to transfer him to a specialist dental facility.
Anoosheh Ashoori, who lives in the UK, was arrested on 13 August 2017 during a visit to Tehran. According to his family, he was held in solitary confinement during his first six weeks of detention, interrogated without access to a lawyer and taunted with threats to his family. He told his family he was forced to sign “confessions” under torture and other ill-treatment, including sleep deprivation and prolonged solitary confinement. Anoosheh Ashoori was denied the right to adequate defense and the right to access a lawyer of his choosing. Between January and July 2018, the judge presiding over his case rejected all six lawyers he had selected and would only permit a state-appointed lawyer.
I urge you to quash the conviction and sentence against Anoosheh Ashoori and release him unless he is charged with an internationally recognizable offense and tried in accordance with international fair trial standards. Pending this, I urge you to ensure he urgently receives any medical care he needs including specialized dental care that is not available in prison.