British Prisoners in Iran

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:03 pm on 18th July 2017.

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Photo of Oliver Dowden Oliver Dowden Conservative, Hertsmere 5:03 pm, 18th July 2017

Thank you for finding time to accommodate me, Mr Hollobone. I apologise for my lack of proper notice.

I want to talk briefly about the case of Mr Foroughi, whose son is a constituent of mine. I have been involved extensively with the campaign that we have run jointly with Tulip Siddiq to secure the release of Mr Foroughi and others.

There are many similarities between the cases that have been mentioned, but Mr Foroughi is a 78-year-old man. He really is an old man, and he is an ill man. He has been detained for more than 2,000 days. He is the longest-serving European national in a prison in Iran. There are many questions about his detention, but in the short term, there are genuine humanitarian issues for the Iranian Government, principally about his health and the need for them to share his medical files, which would at least provide some comfort.

I know that the British Government have raised this issue at every level. I used to work for Prime Minister David Cameron, and I know that he raised it directly with his opposite number, as have the current Prime Minister and Ministers at other levels. However, I would be grateful if the Minister addressed three matters that have been brought out during the debate.

First, there are genuine questions about the EU delegation. It seems extraordinary that it could have been just outside where these people were detained, and that has caused a lot of anguish. Secondly and thirdly, on trade and the nuclear deal, I seek guidance, reassurance and information from the Minister about what we are doing to try to leverage opportunities. I was always sceptical about that deal, but I hoped that it would provide an opportunity to improve Iran’s humanitarian record. That does not seem to be happening, so any further guidance that he can give would be gratefully received.