Tory MP Slams Liz Truss For ‘Heinous Failure’ Of Hostage Family

A report has highlighted blunders made by both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss during their time as foreign secretary.
Former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
Former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.
TOBY MELVILLE via Getty Images

A Tory MP has slammed Liz Truss for a “heinous failure” after it was claimed she told a hostage’s family he was not her “problem”.

MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee said ministers are “failing” citizens captured abroad with their “clumsiness” and “avoidable errors”.

Their report on the UK’s handling of hostage diplomacy highlighted Truss’s handling of the case of Morad Tahbaz, a joint UK-US-Iranian citizen.

Truss agreed with the Americans that he would be released alongside Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in March last year, according to evidence.

“However, Liz Truss did not stand by this arrangement and failed to let either the family or US officials know that Morad was not to be released with [her] and Anoosheh Ashoori,” the MPs said.

US State Department officials notified the family that Morad had not been released.

“Liz Truss eventually called the family to say that ‘Morad is now a US problem’, implying that she would not put further effort into his release, and she did not have time to speak to them further,” MPs added.

Committee chair Alicia Kearns told Times Radio the treatment of some hostages’ families had been “insensitive and hurtful”.

Referring to Truss’s handling of Tahbaz’s case, she said “the most heinous failure of a minister” was to tell a family “you’re no longer our problem”.

She also said there were also examples of ministers “getting the names of hostages wrong” and added: “For dual nationals their Britishness too often they felt was in question.”

Tahbaz was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage while on a trip to Iran and remains in prison there.

Other incidents highlighted include the case of Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was kept in prison by the Iranian regime after Johnson in 2017 wrongly said she had been teaching journalism in Tehran.

A spokesman for Truss said many of the assertions in the report are “not true”.

“It was always the case that as Morad Tahbaz was also a US citizen, the maximum on the table in any deal with the UK was securing furlough, which was achieved,” he said.

“Morad’s family were aware of this and were kept informed of developments throughout.”


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