Anoosheh Ashoori has revealed that Boris Johnson did not take any calls from his family while in custody, but since his release the Prime Minister has asked to meet him.
The 67-year-old Iranian-British was held for five years in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran.
He was flown back to the UK last week, along with fellow British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Speaking exclusively on Beth Rigby’s interviews on Sky News, Mr Ashoori said he felt disappointed with the British leader but praised the “fantastic job” officials have been doing behind the scenes.
Mr Johnson did not respond to requests for assistance from the family, or a direct request from Mr Ashoori.
The detained Briton managed to record an audio message inside the jail asking for Mr Johnson’s help. It was published by Sky News in 2020.
to listen Voicemails from Anoosheh Ashoori: “We’re a breath away from death in this circle of hell”
The retired engineer said: “I risked my safety but managed to get this message to him.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t even take five minutes to call my family.”
However, on Monday Mr Ashoori received an invitation to meet the Prime Minister.
He told Sky News: “Now he can’t wait to see us. How would you interpret that?
“I think there’s a bit of opportunism involved in that.”
When asked if he would meet the prime minister, Mr Ashoori replied: “I’m not sure.”
Mr Ashoori praised officials working behind the scenes, naming Stephanie Al-Qaq, director of the Middle East and North Africa department at the Foreign Office, and Simon Shercliff, ambassador to Iran.
He said: “They did a fantastic job. It’s leadership that we question.”
Mr Ashoori and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe were released after the UK repaid Iran a £400million debt dating back 40 years.
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Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was criticized for saying earlier this week that the government should have gotten her out sooner.
But Mr Ashoori says he agrees “one hundred per cent” with Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
“It wasn’t a ransom, it was a debt the UK government owed and it should have been paid. And if it had been paid, none of this would have happened,” he says.
The Ashoori family had around 48 hours notice that their loved one would return – and they would have to pay a £27,000 fine for his release.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered no assistance to the family in this regard. They were forced to max out their credit cards to get the funds on time.
A crowdfunding was created by his daughter Elika to find a way to start paying off their debt.
More than £38,000 has been raised, leaving Mr Ashoori “dazzled by the generosity, support and absolute kindness of strangers”.
Some of the extra money will be used by the family to help campaign for those remaining in Evin prison to be released, including Morad Tahbaz, a British-American national whom Mr Ashoori knows personally.
Mr Ashoori feels responsible for doing so after witnessing the conditions of detention – with bed bugs, the smell of open sewers and dental treatment from a dentist known to ‘pull ten teeth out in ten minutes’ “.
While in detention, he made several attempts to commit suicide.
He cut his wrists and at one point tried to starve himself – losing 17 kg in 17 days.
“I stopped eating. For four days I didn’t even drink water… I think when you’re gone, you don’t exist anymore and then you don’t feel pain anymore. was my reasoning to myself.”
A government spokesman said: “Since the prime minister, this government has been committed to securing the release of Anoosheh Ashoori.
“It has always been Iran’s gift to do so, but British ministers and diplomats have worked tirelessly to secure his freedom and are delighted that he is now home.”
“Our consular team was in close and regular contact with Anoosheh’s family, with officials on hand at all times throughout his ordeal.”
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected]