Anousheh Ashuri: 68-year-old prisoner released to run London Marathon ‘in solidarity with Iranians’ London Marathon

Anusheh Ashuri, a British-Iranian man who spent nearly five years in prison in Iran, has said he will run the London Marathon with “in solidarity with the people of Iran and the women’s movement” in his mind.

Ashuri was freed in March along with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from Lewisham in South London.

He will run through the UK capital on Sunday to raise funds and awareness for Amnesty International and Hostage International, but said his reason for participating in the 26.2-mile race has now “expanded”.

The 68-year-old told BBC Radio 4’s Today program, “On top of that I have a big goal, which is I am dedicating my run to the people of Iran, the 85 million prisoners of that country.”

He praised those protesting in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died in police custody after being arrested for allegedly not following the country’s hijab rules.

He said that, while running the marathon, “my heart will be with the women” who are cutting their hair in public as part of the protest and wished them success.

Ashuri was arrested in August 2017 while on his way to visit his mother, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison – 10 years for allegedly “spiing Israel for the Mossad” and “illegal” Two years to gain money”. He denied both the charges.

He set himself the goal of completing the London Marathon during his sentence and began training while in prison.

He said: “We had this yardage, 15m by 17m and we had to run in circles that put a lot of pressure on your knees, but we had no other choice.”

At one point, Iranian authorities banned prisoners from using sports facilities, meaning that the Ashuris and those with whom they were detained had to find alternative methods of training.

“They put restrictions on what they had, so we were practicing in a courtyard, but we were determined to move on,” he said.

Despite suffering from a degenerative torn meniscus, Ashuri is training for a marathon with the help of a professional coach assigned to him by Amnesty International.

Practicing under the supervision of her coach, Ashuri has covered a distance of 18.6 miles (30 km). He added: “I’m doing well, and if my knees don’t fail I’m sure I’ll cross that finish line.”

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