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Elika Ashoori

Elika AshooriElika Ashoori is a British-Iranian actress living in London who continues to pressure the the British government to take action for the release of her unjustly imprisoned father in Iran.

Elika is a British-Iranian actress, living in London, UK. She graduated from the University of Kent, in Visual and Performing Arts and spent a further two years studying acting at Rose Bruford College, Sidcup.

She finished her studies in April 2012 and has since performed in four short films, and a comedy feature film. Her latest works include two plays in the 2013 Brighton and Camden Fringe Festivals.

She has since performed in various film and stage productions, including plays at the 2013 Camden Fringe Festivals, The House of Bernarda Alba at Brighton Fringe Festival in 2013.

She also performed in the award-winning production of ‘The Crucible’ with The Pretty Villain theatre company at the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2014, the Heidelberg Iranian Theatre Festival in 2015, and many more.

Her impressive body of work includes lead roles in Films such as Thunder & Lightning and numerous appearances in various theater companies.

Outside her acting career, Elika is also a market pattissarie chef, specializing in macarons at the Greenwich Market.

In her free time, Elika has always found poetry to be a therapeutic form of expressing herself. She has been writing poems both in Persian and English since a very young age, some of which have been featured in poetry collections both online and in paperback.

She is also an avid organiser of various fundraisers for both Iranian and non Iranian charities, such as Kahrizak, War Child, Nepal Aid and Dog's Trust.

Elika is a classically trained pianist and a professionally trained makeup artist at Christian Dior.

A graduate of Rose Bruford College and Kent University, she is the recipient of the Bronze Medal at LAMDA

The daughter of Anoosheh Ashoori, a dual Iranian-British prisoner serving a 10-year sentence at Evin Prison, she has become increasingly worried about her father, and says she has never heard him so depressed and upset throughout the three and a half years of his senseless incarceration.

Elika AshooriAshoori said Evin prison officials had recently denied Anoosheh Ashoori telephone privileges, and had confiscated his phone card without providing any reason.

Ashoori had marked his 67th birthday in prison, and has now been denied his right to contact anyone for six weeks.

“Starting a month and a half ago, my father's cellmates have lent their phone cards to my father for a few minutes so he can call us,” Elika Ashoori told media reporters.

She was speaking from the United Kingdom, where she and her family - including her father prior to his detention are living.

She said some of her father’s cellmates had also made short calls to them to inform them about her father's health.

“Prison officials have not even given any explanation for their actions. We told the British Foreign Office officials about this but they constantly tell us they are lobbying for my father's right to make phone calls. But nothing has happened yet."

In Evin Prison, prisoners are normally entitled to make calls to five pre-registered numbers each day if they purchase a phone card from prison officers.

Anoosheh Ashoori’s daughter Elika explained that the majority of the family live outside of Iran. "My grandmother, who is 90 years old, lives in Tehran. She cannot visit my father. My father, denied visitors, is now even deprived of the right to talk to his wife and children."

On April 5, Sky News broadcast a recorded message from Ashoori. "It is now more than three and a half years that all we have received from the British government has just been words and no tangible results," he said in a recorded messaged from Evin Prison.

Elika AshooriAshoori, a retired engineer, was arrested by security agents in 2017 during a visit to his mother. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined by a Revolutionary Court for spying for Israel.

He is being held in Ward 4 at Evin Prison, which accommodates most of those dual nationals held on charges such as "espionage for hostile states."

"My father has reached a point where he had to send that voice message and ask for help himself," Elika Ashoori told the media.

"We cannot ask the Iranian authorities about this because they imprison their people so easily for no reason. We cannot speak logically with these people.

We just pray every day and night that the British government will repay the money owed to Iran so that the dual national prisoners who are now in Evin Prison can be released and return to their homes."

"Paying this money can be done through the provision of the coronavirus vaccine for the Iranian people or some other way. In any case, we are in a situation where we feel as a family we are not very important to the British government so that it will do something for us."

Elika Ashoori refers to the historical debt the UK owes Iran for the purchase of Chieftain tanks in 1970, during the reign of Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

For the last several years, the Iranian government has used this debt and dual nationals it has held hostage a bargaining chips.

As part of discussions to release Nazanin Zaghari, a British-Iranian dual national who is also being held hostage, Iranian officials announced that her freedom would follow the payment of the £400m the British government owes Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is currently under house arrest, despite completing a five-year sentence. She awaits a verdict on a new case that was opened as the end of her sentence approached.

Aras Amiri, another British-Iranian dual national, is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Evin Prison on charges of espionage.

Siamak Namazi and Morad Tahabaz, dual national Iranian-American prisoners, Austrian-Iranian nationals Kamran Ghaderi and Massoud Mosaheb, and Iranian-Swedish physician Ahmad Reza Jalali are all also charged with spying for hostile states and are also serving time in Evin Prison.

Elika AshooriIran does not recognize dual citizenship, so in the case of dual national prisoners, does not attach much importance to attempts at diplomacy by officials from countries that claim their citizens have been held unfairly.

However, a number of dual-national prisoners have been exchanged for Iranian prisoners in other countries in recent years, and some of them have been exchanged for money.

"My father was told that if his family arrived in Iran, they would also arrest them for spying, like him,” Elika Ashoori told the medi in a previous interview of August 22, 2020.

"He told us the same thing over the phone and that was why he was transferred to solitary confinement for two weeks — to be punished.”

In addition to trumped-up charges against him and cruel denial of his rights, Anoosheh Ashoori's interrogators also used other means of tormenting him.

"My father was told during the early interrogations, when he was not allowed to contact his family, that his wife had abandoned him."

"They said, ‘our agents went to your daughter's pastry shop and talked to her, and now we know what sweets your daughter likes.' But if they go there again, they will not be so kind."

"My father once went on a hunger strike to protest against the pressure put on him to make a forced confession. He was threatened with being sent to the Somalian prisoners' cell if he continued."

"It was rumored that Shia prisoners would not last more than one or two nights if they were transferred to a Sunni Somalian prisoners' cell.”

“It’s like a broken record,” says Elika Ashoori eight months after that conversation. “The UK government] have the same promises. It is as if someone were reading from a prepared text."

"Every time we ask we get the same answers. Every time they say they are trying to talk and consult with the Iranian Foreign Ministry. But we are unaware of what conversations take place. I just know my father is very disappointed."

Ashoori has also been denied appropriate medical care. "My father had a knee problem and it was supposed to be operated on, but he was arrested in Iran two months before the surgery,” his daughter says.

“He has repeatedly asked to see a specialist doctor outside the prison, but they will not agree. He also has gum and tooth problems, but the dentist in prison only pulls teeth!"

She says she knows her father is not the only one. Like other prisoners, he has to endure the poor conditions at Evin: neglected health problems, increased number of prisoners in each ward, bedbugs, and, over the last year the addition of coronavirus.

Elika AshooriThroughout his time in prison, Ashoori has endured abuse, threats, and medical negligence with a calm resilience. As has happened with other prisoners, Ashoori has also been pressured to spy for Iran.

”They told my father to cooperate with them and spy on the British government for them. My father told us he would rather stay in prison than spy for another government.”

Now his family’s worries are mounting, exacerbated by his feelings of despair.

"They asked him, 'Are you Mr. Ashouri?' and my father replied, ‘Yes’. So, they put a sack on his head and put him in the car and said, 'You are under arrest'." - Elika Ashouri recalling the moment her father, Anousheh Ashouri, was arrested while visiting family in Iran in August 2017.

News of the retired British-Iranian businessman’s arrest was made public the following month. In August 2019 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly spying for Israeli spy agency Mossad, and two years for "acquiring illegitimate wealth".

On Wednesday, April 9, the day of his 66th birthday, a desperate audio message sent by Anousheh Ashouri from jail was published on the Guardian’s website.

"Today is my 66th birthday and I am spending this day as a hostage in this circle of hell called Evin Prison," he said. "The allegations against me are false and none of them are true.”

About two and a half years ago, my father went to Iran to visit his mother. My grandmother had had a knee operation and there was no one to take care of her after the surgery, remembers Elika.

"We all came and went from Iran fairly often. My father was supposed to stay there for about two and a half weeks, then return. Apparently, a week into his stay, he was going to the market to do some shopping when a van stopped in front of him."

"They asked him, 'Are you Mr. Ashouri?' and my father replied, ‘Yes’. So, they put a sack on his head and put him in the car and said, 'You are under arrest'."

"They take him to my grandmother's house and tell him to write a note to his mother to say that he was going to stay at a friend's house, and not to worry about him. He was then transferred to Evin Prison."

"We became concerned later that day because my father was not a person who would not tell anyone where he was going. We were aware of exactly what my father was doing every minute. That's why my mother was so surprised."

Elika Ashoori"We waited for about a day. Then my father called my grandmother and said that he had been taken to Evin Prison and was waiting to see if something had gone wrong."

"He said: "I’ll cooperate, it's nothing, and I will leave very soon." Then for two weeks, there was no more news. After two weeks passed my father called my grandmother again and said that he was still there, and if anyone came and asked for a certificate from his company, documents or his computer, to cooperate with them to show that he was innocent."

"He thought this would all be resolved as soon as possible. That's when we realized that something was going to happen."

"In the message my father sent a few days ago, he emphasized again that he was innocent. The charges against him are related to Israel. How can this accusation be attributed to him?"

"This is not only about my father. If you observe all the political prisoners who have been arrested and sentenced, the allegations are the same: they say they worked for Israel."

"My father was neither a politician nor has he ever worked with any government - his job is in the private sector. None of our family members are political and we have nothing to do with politics."

"All my father's documents were confiscated, his files were confiscated, our emails were hacked and after a few months, they still did not find any evidence against him."

"My father's job is in civil engineering, and not in a sensitive role. My father's work was in the production of a material called Roofix, which is used to make buildings resistant to earthquakes."

"In areas such as Bam [in Kerman province] which had been affected by earthquakes, my father worked to strengthen the buildings. His work had nothing to do with the Iranian government."

"He had retired about two years ago and wanted to spend more time relaxing. He didn't even work in a job anymore."

"The Iranian government has demanded money from the British government in exchange for other hostages’ release. They asked for the same for my father."

Elika Ashoori"We are in constant contact with the British Foreign Office about the possibility of helping my father. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif once said that if the amount was paid, the chances of these Iranians being released would be very high."

"So, that the British government should pay something to get them released? Yes. Everyone knows that in Iran that they will not imprison a real spy; they execute the real spies."

"My father was in solitary confinement for about five months. When he came out, he could speak to my mother on the phone for 20 minutes in the morning and for 10 minutes in the evening. He was allowed to call seven numbers and could use those at the permitted times to tell us about his condition."

The message Ashoori gave on his 66th birthday was decisive and clear. Some people would not send such a message for fear of getting into trouble in prison.

"Honestly, we were very scared before. The reason we didn't talk to the media for a year was because we didn't want to endanger my father's life and endanger his conditions."

"But then we came to the conclusion that we might communicate better as human beings. If someone calls from Evin Prison and asks for help, maybe it is more affective and realistic for those who hear it."

"When we broadcast the message, though, nothing happened to him. As much as we call on the Iranian government to release my father, we also call on the British government to work for the release of him."

Sky News broadcast a recorded message from Ashoori. "It is now more than three and a half years that all we have received from the British government has just been words and no tangible results," he said in a recorded messaged from Evin Prison.

Ashoori, a retired engineer, was arrested by security agents in 2017 during a visit to his mother. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined by a Revolutionary Court for spying for Israel.

He is being held in Ward 4 at Evin Prison, which accommodates most of those dual nationals held on charges such as "espionage for hostile states."

Elika AshooriThe money Elika Ashoori refers to is the historical debt the UK owes Iran for the purchase of Chieftain tanks in 1970, during the reign of Iran’s last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. For the last several years, the Iranian government has used this debt and dual nationals it has held hostage a bargaining chips. As part of discussions to release Nazanin Zaghari, a British-Iranian dual national who is also being held hostage, Iranian officials announced that her freedom would follow the payment of the £400m the British government owes Iran. Zaghari-Ratcliffe is currently under house arrest, despite completing a five-year sentence. She awaits a verdict on a new case that was opened as the end of her sentence approached. Aras Amiri, another British-Iranian dual national, is currently serving a 10-year sentence in Evin Prison on charges of espionage. Siamak Namazi and Morad Tahabaz, dual national Iranian-American prisoners, Austrian-Iranian nationals Kamran Ghaderi and Massoud Mosaheb, and Iranian-Swedish physician Ahmad Reza Jalali are all also charged with spying for hostile states and are also serving time in Evin Prison.

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, so in the case of dual national prisoners, does not attach much importance to attempts at diplomacy by officials from countries that claim their citizens have been held unfairly.

However, a number of dual-national prisoners have been exchanged for Iranian prisoners in other countries in recent years, and some of them have been exchanged for money.

Elika Ashoori continues to put pressure on the British government to take action for the release of her unjustly imprisoned father in Iran.

www.elikaashoori.com

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Lilika’s Treats is an independent luxury patisserie brand, dedicated to perfecting the art of macaron and cake. Their ethos is to reintroduce baking as an edible art form. Each creation is made to tell an individual story at every stage, from flavour to design and display. No two designs should ever be the same as no two people ever are. Visit them online at: www.lilikastreats.com

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