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

PA Media logoPA Media 02/05/2021 By Associated Press Reporters
a woman holding a piece of cake is smiling: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Free Nazanin Campaign/PA) © Free Nazanin Campaign Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Free Nazanin Campaign/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 dollars (£5 billion) in frozen Iranian funds.

The report comes the week after Ms 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.

a man standing in front of a building: Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Ian West/PA) © Provided by PA Media Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (Ian West/PA)

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.

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

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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