Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden puts pressure on Iranian government to free grandfather

Back in 2015, Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, left, made a statement in Parliament regarding the campaig

Back in 2015, Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, left, made a statement in Parliament regarding the campaign that his constituent, Kamran Foroughi (right), is running in order to secure the release of his imprisoned father, Kamal. The politician has continued to call for his release from prison in Iran - so far to no avail. - Credit: photo supplied

Campaigners and government officials are continuing efforts to have a poorly grandfather freed from prison in Iran.

British national Kamal Foroughi has been held in Evin prison, Tehran, for almost six years, despite calls for his release from Amnesty International and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden.

The politician has long spoken out about Kamal’s plight after being contacted by his concerned son, local constituent Kamran Foroughi.

In May 2011, Kamal Foroughi was taken without charge or warrant by five armed, plainclothes police. The 77-year-old British-Iranian grandfather was held in solitary confinement for 18 months, and is currently serving a seven-year sentence for espionage, after being taken to a trial without his lawyer or the prosecutor being present.

His health is deteriorating, and the grandfather is in need of specialised medical care.

Late last month Mr Dowden met the Foreign Secretary and raised the case before accompanying Kamran Foroughi to talk with Minister Tobias Ellwood at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Herts Advertiser understands that this meeting gave the local resident an opportunity to learn how the Minister’s recent visit to Tehran had gone.

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He also explained how frustrating it was for his family to remain in their current position, considering the compassionate, legal and medical grounds for what would be a normal early release for his father.

Mr Dowden said: “We used the meeting to discuss the latest developments in the case and to investigate possible further avenues to put pressure on the Iranian government.

“The Foreign Minister updated us on his recent trip to Iran, where he raised Mr Foroughi’s case.”

Kamran Foroughi said he “really appreciates the hard work by everyone at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office” on his behalf.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has recently held public meetings in St Albans and Watford to support the #FreeGrandpaKamal campaign.

Sarah Hagger Holt, co-ordinator of Watford Amnesty, said that with two British Prime Ministers having written to the Iranian authorities requesting the grandfather’s release, “it is high time for those authorities to show some basic compassion”.

• To sign a petition calling for Kamal’s freedom, please go to: www.change.org/FreeKamalForoughi• The campaign can also be followed via: twitter.com/FreeKForoughi and facebook.com/FreeKamalForoughi