LONDON: British-Iranian workers’ rights campaigner Mehran Raoof, 64, has been held in solitary confinement for five months in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after he was secretly recorded talking about politics in a cafe, human rights campaigners have revealed.
Raoof was arrested at his home in Tehran in October and taken to Evin, where Iran keeps political prisoners and dual nationals. There are frequent allegations of torture at the prison.
Satar Rahmani, a London-based colleague of Raoof, told the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the former London teacher was helping to translate English-language news articles into Farsi around the time of his arrest.
“He and 15 other workers were arrested. They were using a coffee shop as a place to talk about workers’ rights,” Rahmani said.
“Without their knowing, there was a spy, a young girl, in the coffee shop who secretly recorded their discussions, and that led to the arrests.”
Raoof’s contact with the outside world has been limited to a brief telephone call three months ago with a distant relative in Iran.
While nine other suspects have been bailed, he is being held in ward 2A of Evin, where British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other dual nationals have been imprisoned.
Amnesty International said Raoof is an arbitrarily detained “prisoner of conscience,” and expressed concern that he could be given a sentence of up to 16 years.
Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanded the “immediate release” of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other controversially detained Britons in a telephone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it was not asked to provide consular assistance to Raoof, adding they would not raise a case without permission of the detainee or their family.
“We continue to raise the issue of British dual national detentions with the Iranian authorities,” an FCDO spokesperson said.