Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashouri 'on way home': Lawyer

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashouri 'on way home': Lawyer
The British-Iranian man and women have been held by Iran since 2016, who have demanded the repayment of a decades old debt.
2 min read
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had her passport returned to her on Tuesday[Getty]

 Two detained British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anousheh Ashouri are heading to a Tehran airport to leave the country, their lawyer Hojjat Kermani told Reuters on Wednesday.

Hopes were raised about the release of the dual nationals after Nazanin had her British passport returned to her on Tuesday amid reports that a UK negotiating team was in Iran.

"Nazanin is at the airport in Tehran and on her way home," UK lawmaker Tulip Siddiq tweeted. “I came into politics to make a difference, and right now I’m feeling like I have.’’

Iranian state television in an on-air scrolling text announced Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “handed over to the British government,” without elaborating. Iran’s English-language broadcaster Press TV later described Zaghari-Ratcliffe as “leaving Tehran after serving jail term.”

Iran’s Fars news agency said Iran had received $530m (£405m) for her release. “$530m of Iranian blocked assets have been unfrozen before her release. She was handed over to the British side at 2.15pm local time. Her release process is ongoing,” the agency said.

The families of both believe they were being held as political prisoners until the UK settled a £400-million ($520-million, 475-million-euro) debt for defence equipment dating back to the time of the Shah of Iran.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is visiting the Middle East, had confirmed earlier that a negotiating team was at work in Tehran to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe served five years in prison after being taken into custody at Tehran’s airport in April 2016. She was later convicted of plotting the overthrow of Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups deny.

She has been held under house arrest and unable to leave the country since her release.

Ashoori was arrested in 2017 and jailed for 10 years on charges of spying for Israel. Both have strenuously denied the charges.

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