June 17, 2024

After years of imprisonment in Iran: British-Iranian citizens released again

After years of imprisonment in Iran: British-Iranian citizens released again

Status: 03/16/2022 5:10 PM

For years, dual nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoush Ashouri have been imprisoned in Iran. Now they were allowed to leave the country and return to Great Britain.

Two British citizens of Iranian descent have been released after years of imprisonment in Iran and returned to the United Kingdom. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said two Iranian nationals in 2016 and 2017, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousha Ashouri, were expected to be arrested in the UK.

“Parallel” to negotiations between London and Tehran over the release, the two parties settled a decades-old dispute over a liability of 394 million pounds, or about 470 million euros. Truss said Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousha Ashouri “will be reunited with their families and loved ones” upon their arrival in the UK.

Anoush Ashouri is free again.

Photo: via Reuters

Iranian authorities returned Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s British passport over the weekend, raising hopes her ordeal would soon be over. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also confirmed on a trip to the Middle East that a negotiating team in Tehran was working on her release. He later tweeted that he was glad the “unfair detention” of Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashuri had ended.

Representative Tulip Siddiq from Hampstead in London’s Zaghari-Ratcliffe wrote on Twitter that the 43-year-old British woman was at Tehran airport. A friend also posted a photo of Zaghari Ratcliffe smiling on a plane. Nazanin is now on air to escape six years of hell in Iran.

Arrests during family visits

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained at Tehran airport in April 2016 after visiting her relatives in Iran. The British woman of Iranian descent then spent five years in prison. He was later convicted of plotting to overthrow the Iranian regime. She herself, her supporters, and human rights groups denied the allegations. After five years in prison, she was released to house arrest. At the time of her arrest she was working for the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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Ashouri is a retired engineer. He was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for spying for Israel while visiting his mother in Iran in 2017. Families of the binationals have always argued that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Ashouri were victims of political persecution. Richard, the husband of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has repeatedly said that his wife is a “hostage” in a dark political game. It is about repaying a debt from the time of the Shah of Persia.

Long-running debt dispute in the background

And the semi-governmental Fars News Agency had indicated earlier in a report that the release of Zagaris Ratcliffe was imminent. The British government previously owed about £400m to the leadership in Tehran. Before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid for tanks that were never delivered. She added that the long-overdue debts had been settled.

Truss has now said the dispute over the payment has been settled by Oman’s mediation. The funds will be invested “exclusively to purchase humanitarian goods”. According to the “ISNA” news agency, the Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said that Tehran “received millions a few days ago.” But it was “wrong” to establish a link between the payment receipt “and the release of these people”.

Truss said the London government would continue to work for the release of Morad Tahbaz, another Iranian who has three British-American citizenship. At the moment, the status of the freelancer has been agreed upon for him.