UK pushes for Zaghari-Ratcliffe release as Iran demands debt payment

UK pushes for Zaghari-Ratcliffe release as Iran demands debt payment
Britain's new foreign secretary Liz Truss has pushed for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who faces her 2,000th day in Iranian prison, in a meeting with her Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
2 min read
23 September, 2021
Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent 2,000 days in detention [Getty]

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss pushed for the release of British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari – Ratcliffe in a meeting with her Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in New York on Wednesday.

The pair met at the UN General Assembly, where according to Iranian news agency IRNA, Amir-Abdollahian emphasised that Iran is waiting for Britain to pay a £400 million (US$550 million) debt from before the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

In the UK activists marked Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 2,000th day of detention in Iran by demanding that Britain impose sanctions on 10 Iranian officials accused of involvement in hostage-taking.

The demand is the Free Nazanin campaign’s first call for sanctions on individual officials over the British-Iranian dual national’s imprisonment.

“Iran conducts its diplomatic business through hostage-taking, in part because it is cost-free,” Richard Ratlcliffe, Nazanin’s husband, was quoted by The Guardian as saying earlier this week.

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“British citizens will not be protected from hostage-taking by words and soundbites, but by actions that cause the perpetrators to reassess their calculations, and consider the personal costs – for their role in what is a serial organised crime,” he added.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has been held in Iran since April 2016, when she was arrested while travelling there to visit family.

Despite having completed her initial five-year sentence for “plotting to topple the Iranian government”, she has been refused permission to return home.

Thursday marks Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s 2,000th day in detention.

In his meeting with Truss, Amir-Abdollahian went on to add that the US and European countries which were involved in talks on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal were not serious about re-establishing relations with Iran.

“Unfortunately, Britain has played a part in that inaction, and that approach needs to be changed,” he said.

Amir-Abdollahian added that the US can’t claim to want to return to JCPOA while continuing sanctions against Iran in collaboration with the European Union.

“That is an obvious contradiction that is carefully observed by the Iranian people. For the current Iranian government, the index and measurement stick is actions and measurable deeds of the other sides of the JCPOA, as mere words are not meaningful,” said Amir-Abdollahian.