Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Briton detained in Iran 'very, very angry' at failed agreement

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Briton detained in Iran 'very, very angry' at failed agreement
Zaghari-Ratcliffe felt "amazed" at Johnson's remarks and said she "could have been home last year". She asked why she remains in Iran, according to her husband.
3 min read
13 February, 2022
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe expressed concern she's been made a 'bargaining chip' [Hollie Adams/Getty-archive]

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband has revealed that his wife was "very, very angry" following news that an agreement to secure her return to the UK crumbled last year.

UK-Iran dual national Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, expressed concern she's been made a "bargaining chip" in the Vienna negotiations on Tehran's atomic capabilities, and feels "anger at her life being stolen".

Richard Ratcliffe, her spouse, also noted she was angry given Britain's alleged "lack of urgency" about bringing her to freedom, The Observer reported on Sunday.

Iran imprisoned the Londoner on a five-year sentence in 2016, claiming she was seeking to bring the country's authorities down. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has consistently rejected this allegation.

The charity project manager received additional time last year, accused of "spreading propaganda" following the conclusion of her first term. This meant she remained on house arrest in the Iranian capital.

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British lawmakers learned on Wednesday that London reached an understanding with Iran for her freedom last summer, only for it to fail.

Authorities in the past would not acknowledge that they reached a consensus. However, after Tulip Siddiq, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's local MP, raised the matter, Prime Minister Boris Johnson did not rebuff this.

It is believed the UK said it would return £400 million ($542 million) stemming from a cancelled 1970s weapons agreement.

It has not been said what caused the 2021 understanding to crumble, though some worry this is connected with talks on rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Replying to Siddiq, Johnson argued Britain's debt is "difficult to settle and square away for all sorts of reasons to do with sanctions".

While Zaghari-Ratcliffe remained stuck in Iran, she watched what happened in the UK's parliament while on house arrest.

Her husband explained the verification an agreement was almost reached last year brought him hope, while "for Nazanin, it really all rushed back that actually this has been dragged on for ages and she's lost six years of her life".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe felt "amazed" at Johnson's remarks and said she "could have been home last year". She asked why she remains in Iran, according to her husband.

"Where is [Boris Johnson's] urgency?" she continued.

Richard Ratcliffe is believed to be seeing figures from Britain's Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) soon.

The prime minister has committed to meeting him, but this is still to be scheduled.

A spokesperson for the FCDO told The Observer it "remain[s] committed to securing the release of Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe" plus other fellow Brits Anoosheh Ashoori and Morad Tahbaz, who are also held in Iran.

The spokesperson described it as "unhelpful to connect wider bilateral issues with those unfairly detained in Iran", adding that Britain "has always said" it will return the £400-million debt and is continuing to look at ways of doing this with "urgency".

They explained they "will not comment further as discussions are ongoing".