The Speaker
Friday, 14 June 2024 – 10:59
Photo Credit: Garry Knight (CC BY 2.0)

Two detained British-Iranians board flight back to the UK 

After 6 years of detention, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is returning to the UK, alongside fellow British-Iranian detainee Anoosheh Ashoori.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been imprisoned in Iran since 2016, when she was accused of attempting to overthrow the Iranian government, a claim for which evidence was not produced and she always denied. Ashoori was imprisoned in 2017 on the accusation that he was spying for Israel, despite never having been to the country.

In January of this year, Ashoori began a hunger strike in protest of the arbitrary detainment of himself and others.

Some have linked their detainment to a £400 million debt owed to Iran by the UK government. While Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted that the two issues should not be linked. The government has today announced that the debt has been settled.

This morning Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s MP, Tulip Siddiq who had long campaigned on behalf  of Zaghari Ratcliffe and worked closely with her husband, tweeted that:

“Nazanin is at the airport in Tehran and on her way home.”

Since then pictures have emerged showing Nazanin on a plane, smiling in front of the window.

It is reported that she is currently in Muscat, awaiting a flight which will see her arrive back to the UK later today.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe will be returning to her husband and 7-year old daughter. Anoosheh Ashoori also returns to a wife and daughter.

Mr Ratcliffe said of his experience over the past 6 years:

“Ours has been a cruel experience in some ways, but it’s also been an exposure to such a level of kindness and care.”

“This will be a chapter in our lives, but there are many more chapters to come.”

Richard Ratcliffe has famously campaigned for his wife’s freedom for years, including holding a hunger strike in late 2021, which saw him camp outside the Foreign Office for 21 days without eating. He attracted national support and held a meeting with foreign office ministers during his strike.

It had been reported yesterday that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had had her passport returned, leading to hopes that her return to the UK may be imminent. 

Iran has a history of detaining foreign nationals. Such situations are made more difficult because Iran does not recognise dual nationalities, meaning British-Iranians are considered solely Iranian and ambassadors from the other nation of which they hold citizenship cannot intervene on their behalf.

Around a dozen more Western dual-nationals are believed to still be incarcerated in Iran.

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