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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to be released as UK pays Iran £400m debt - report

Iranian state TV said deals have been reached to release prisoners with Western ties held in Iran.

Family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Family handout file photo of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
Image: PA

BRITISH-IRANIAN WOMAN Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is to be freed by Iran with the UK paying a £400 million debt to Tehran, according to an anonymous official quoted on Iranian state TV.

The channel reported that deals have been reached to release prisoners with Western ties held in Iran.

The official also said a deal with the US will see a prisoner swap in exchange for the release of $7 billion (£5 billion) in frozen Iranian funds.

The report comes the week after Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced to another year in prison in Iran, on top of a five-year sentence she had already served in the Islamic Republic.

The mother of one’s new sentence came amid negotiations as Tehran sought hundreds of millions of pounds from the UK from a decades-old arms deal.

While employed at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency, she was taken into custody at Tehran airport in April 2016 as she was returning home to Britain after visiting family with her daughter.

nazanin-zaghari-ratcliffe-detained Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with their daughter Gabriella during a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London. March 2021. Source: PA

She was convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters, and rights groups deny.

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The latest sentence was for charges of spreading “propaganda against the system” for participating in a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy in London in 2009.

She and her family believe she was held as political leverage to try to force the UK’s hand in a long-running financial dispute with Iran.

It dates back to the 1970s when the then-shah of Iran paid the UK £400 million for 1,500 Chieftain tanks.

When the shah was toppled in 1979, Britain refused to deliver the tanks to the new Islamic Republic but kept the cash, despite British courts accepting it should be repaid.

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