Kamal Foroughi is an elderly British-Iranian who worked in Tehran as a consultant for the Malaysian oil-and-gas firm Petronas. He was born on September 3, 1939. His work for Petronas included facilitating meetings with senior Iranian oil-and-gas officials and arranging Iranian government–funded scholarships for Iranians to study in Malaysia.
Foroughi’s family claims plainclothes officers arrested Foroughi in Tehran in May of 2011 without producing a warrant.
Treatment in Prison
Foroughi is being held in Tehran’s notoriously brutal Evin Prison, and reportedly spent 18 months in solitary confinement. Because Iran does not recognize dual nationality, the regime has not let British diplomats meet with him. As of 2015, the authorities have not permitted Foroughi’s family to meet with him in prison, though they were allowed to speak by phone.
His family has repeatedly expressed concern about his access to medical care, stating that he did not undergo any medical tests until 2015. They said in 2016 that he was awaiting an operation for cataracts in both eyes. In 2017, Foroughi’s family claimed that the authorities were denying them and Foroughi access to his medical test results.
Charges, Trial, and Sentencing
Foroughi was convicted in 2013 of espionage and possessing alcohol and sentenced to a combined eight years in prison. His family claims the judiciary has not provided them any evidence in support of those charges. Foroughi was tried before Tehran Revolutionary Court Judge Abolqassem Salavati, who is nicknamed “the hanging judge” or “the judge of death” for imposing harsh sentences, including capital punishment, in political cases.
Twice, the authorities have raised hopes that Foroughi would be released, only to dash them. In July of 2016, Foroughi’s son publicly announced that the Iranian judiciary had told the prisoner’s lawyer that he would be freed within a week, but no release occurred. In 2017, Foroughi was granted brief medical leave from prison but a promised extended furlough was later denied.
Kamal Foroughi’s son, Kamran, runs a campaign for his father’s release, including a Change.org petition with over 230,000 signatures. 219 British MPs and 42 members of the House of Lords signed a 2007 letter to then–Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson asking him to seek the release of Foroughi and two other British nationals held hostage by Iran.
The British Foreign Office said in 2015 that it has provided help to the Foroughi family, is worried about Mr. Foroughi’s health, and has brought it up repeatedly with the Iranian government at the highest levels, pressuring them to provide him with access to regular health care and an attorney, and ultimately to release him on the grounds of his poor health.
European Union then-High Representative Federica Mogherini stated in 2017 that she “is aware of the imprisonment of both Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi and their cases remain of utmost concern to the EU. The EU has raised their cases on a number of occasions with the Iranian authorities. The EU has asked for their release on humanitarian grounds and underlined the need to provide adequate medical care during their detention. The EU will continue to closely follow the cases and use every opportunity to raise them…”
Amnesty International has called for Foroughi to be receive specialized medical care outside prison and to be released outright.