Two British Iranian prisoners return to UK after Iran deal

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "delighted they will be reunited with their families" after years in detention.

London: Two British Iranian dual nationals, who have been held captive in Iran for five and six years, have been allowed to fly back to the UK on Wednesday after a deal struck with the Iranian government.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker from Hampstead in north-west London, had been arrested in 2016 while visiting family on charges of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. Businessman Anoosheh Ashoori was arrested in 2017 while visiting his mother on spying charges.

They both denied the charges and were supported by the British government in their fight.

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It is the result of tenacious and creative British diplomacy, said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

The UK government said in parallel it had settled a 400 million pounds debt Britain has owed to Iran for more than 40 years, believed to have been part of the release negotiations.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “delighted they will be reunited with their families” after years in detention.

Nazanin has been held in Iran for almost six years, and Anoosheh almost five They will be reunited with their families and loved ones In parallel, we have also settled the IMS debt, as we said we would. I made resolving the continued detention of British nationals and the IMS debt payment my top priorities when I entered office in September 2021, Truss said.

The IMS debt has been settled in full compliance with UK and international sanctions and all legal obligations. These funds will be ring-fenced solely for the purchase of humanitarian goods, she added.

The debt the UK has admitted it owes Iran for tanks and other defence vehicles bought by Tehran but remained undelivered in the wake of the Islamic Revolution in the country in 1979.

A third dual national, Morad Tahbaz, has also been released from prison on furlough. The environmental conservationist from London was arrested in 2018 accused of espionage after using cameras to track endangered species. The UK government said it will continue to work towards his return to Britain.

Giving some details of the process, the UK foreign minister said she had dispatched a team of Foreign Office negotiators to Tehran to secure the release of the detainees last October. This was followed up by a meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Badr to secure Oman’s diplomatic assistance.

We are grateful to our friends in Oman for their support in securing the return of our nationals. Last month I spoke twice to Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian in a final push to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion.

“Our officials then held a last round of negotiations to sign off an agreement allowing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to return to the UK, and Morad Tahbaz to be released on furlough to his house in Tehran, said Truss.

Naznin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case has been in the headlines over the years as her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, campaigned for her release through several demonstrations and hunger strikes.

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