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"No one should be left behind" - Anoosheh 2 years after Evin Prison release

Anoosheh stands with one handcuff on his left wrist, making a first of victory with it, wearing a prison uniform with a fist raised defiantly in the air
Anoosheh running the London Marathon for Hostage International and Amnesty International UK

Anoosheh Ashoori returned home to his family 2 years ago, on the 16th March 2022, after being unjustly imprisoned in Evin Prison, Iran.

This is why he's still fighting to free all unjustly imprisoned British nationals abroad.

Trigger warning: mention of suicide and torture. Blog written by Anoosheh Ashoori below.

"My story is quite different"

Some people will remember me from those late-night TV images of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and me walking down the steps of a plane two years ago, waving and looking pleased to return home. 

My 'public image' is frozen by those photographs, but my story is quite different. 

There is a before-Evin and very much an after-Evin. 

Before: “Life was smooth, filled with the simple pleasures”

Before Evin, my journey began in Iran, where I spent my formative years before venturing to the UK at the age of 18. With hard work, I became an aeronautical engineer. However, life would take an unexpected turn. In 1982 I had to return to Iran to support my ailing father.

With a commitment to providing the best opportunities for our children, my wife Sherry, and I decided to send them to the UK for further studies. We eventually returned to the UK in 2004 to reunite with our children and build a new life together. 

In 2013, I embarked on a new chapter, retiring in London with my beloved family by my side. Sherry, a fervent fan of the Lord of the Rings, inspired me to construct a Hobbit House in our garden, a whimsical retreat that captured her imagination and brought a smile to her face. Life was smooth, filled with the simple pleasures of creating, socialising with our children, and embracing the joys of everyday living. 

Evin Prison: “Many of my friends and cellmates remain ensnared” 

However, life took a harrowing turn in August 2017. I went to visit my mom, who was recovering from a knee replacement operation. 

In a cruel twist of fate, I was abducted in the street and ended up in two interrogation centres run by the Islamic regime of Iran. 

They transferred me to the central prison and sentenced me to 12 years, accusing me of spying for Israel. It was later revealed that this accusation was part of an evil plan by the Islamic regime to force Britain to pay a £400 million debt.

I was trapped in this hellhole, and I would have completed my sentence in 2027. Because I sent voice messages and exposed the atrocities committed by the Islamic regime, I faced a new charge of "Disseminating falsehood". This would have delayed my release until 2030

My wife and kids suffered countless sleepless nights and made immense sacrifices to bring my case to attention. Hope started flourishing when I discovered that because of my family's unwavering pursuit, organisations like Amnesty International and Hostage International, together with the British public, started to support me. 

While in the interrogation centres, enduring what they termed "white torture," I reached the brink of endurance as the threats against my family's safety intensified. Faced with this coercion, I made three suicide attempts. Fortunately, I pulled through. 

In Evin Prison we battled bedbugs, cockroaches, rats, unhygienic conditions, and subpar food while confined to cramped and overcrowded quarters. But despite these harsh realities we formed exercise groups and established various societies devoted to poetry, philosophy, languages. In this unforgiving environment, Evin Prison metamorphosed into "Evin University." 

Sadly, many of my friends and cellmates remain ensnared in the clutches of this ordeal. Their dreams of freedom and reunion with their loved ones are delayed indefinitely. 

After Evin: “the ongoing struggle we face for freedom”

Although my release and return home marked the conclusion of one chapter in my life, it also heralded the beginning of a new, albeit challenging, era as I readjusted to leave the trauma behind. Since my return, I have grappled with anxiety attacks and haunting flashbacks, plagued by thoughts of those I left behind.

I am immensely fortunate to have my family by my side; their unwavering love and support have been a beacon of strength through the turbulent post-release period. Now, more than ever, I take nothing for granted.


While some of my fellow inmates found freedom, others like Mehran Raoof, the UK trade unionist, continue to languish in the darkness of uncertainty.

This is the ongoing struggle we face: an infinite endeavour to persevere and bring all those held hostage back home to their loved ones

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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