UK releases $380m to freenin, Ashoori

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the debt with Iran was “legitimate”…reports Asian Lite News

News agencies quoting Iran’s Fars says the British government was forced to release £380 million to free British-Iranian prisoners.

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told BBC that securing the freedom of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe along with other dual national detainees – Mr Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz – was “an absolute priority”.

A £400m debt relating to a cancelled order for 1,500 Chieftain tanks dating back to the 1970s had been linked to the continued detention of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other UK-Iranian dual nationals held in the country – although the government has said the two issues should not be linked.

Ms Truss said the debt was “legitimate” and that the government was “looking for ways to pay” it.

#FREE NAZANIN campaign thanked Tulip Siddiq MP, Labour’s MP for Hampstead and Kilburn in London, for her relentless efforts to get freedom for the detained aid worker from London.

“You have made a difference @TulipSiddiq! Thanks for all the amazing support you have given to #FreeNazanin over these 6 long years.”

The jubilant MP said:  Nazanin is at the airport in Tehran and on her way home. I came into politics to make a difference, and right now I’m feeling like I have.

London’s Labour Mayor Mayor Sadiq Khan also welcomed the news.

“I’m delighted to hear that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is on her way home to be reunited with her family,” he said. “Nazanin and her loved ones have shown great courage, strength and steadfastness through this unimaginably difficult time. London looks forward to welcoming her home.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was “an incredible moment” for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family after an “unimaginable ordeal”. He added that there would be questions to be answered about “what happened along the way”, but at present his thoughts were with the family.

 Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 – accused of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, which she denied. Ashoori was arrested in 2017 and accused of spying, which he denied.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been under house arrest and was given her UK passport back this week. er husband Richard Ratcliffe, who lives with their six-year-old daughter Gabriella in Hampstead, London, has not yet commented. He had campaigned for her release, including by going on hunger strike in October last year.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s sister-in-law Rebecca Ratcliffe told BBC News it was an “emotional day”.

“It feels like we’re on the home run now but until she leaves that airport we can’t believe it,” she said, adding that she had spoken to Mr Ratcliffe.

She said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been picked up and taken to the airport with her parents, who were not allowed in a holding room with her because she was “still under Iranian control in the airport”.

 Nazanin, 37-year-old charity worker, was on holiday visiting her family in Iran. She was at the airport returning to the UK on the 3rd April when she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. She has been transferred to an unknown location in Kerman Province, 1,000 kilometres south of Tehran, and is being held in solitary confinement. There have been no charges. Nazanin has informed her family that she has been required to sign a confession under duress, its content unknown. Her family have been informed that the investigation relates to an issue of ‘national security’.

Nazanin currently works as a project manager for the Thomson-Reuters Foundation; which delivers charitable projects around the world.

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