Iranian-British citizens Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anooshe Ashoori, who spent several years in prison in Iran, arrived in the United Kingdom this Thursday, where they are already reunited with their families.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, and Anooshe Ashoori, 67, disembarked at dawn at the British military base in Brize Norton, where they were welcomed by their families.
The two Iranian-British nationals left Tehran on Wednesday.
There is a third British national still in Iran, Morad Tahbaz, who has been allowed out of prison and placed under house arrest. Tahbaz, 66, has been in prison for four years.
“After years of detention by the Government of Iran, British citizens Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori will return today. Morad Tahbaz has also been released from prison (…). It is the result of tenacious and creative British diplomacy”, declared the British Foreign Minister Liz Truss.
Iranian media on Wednesday suggested that the UK’s payment of an old debt to Iran is linked to changes in the situation of the aforementioned Iranian-British citizens.
Prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi paid around 400 million pounds sterling (about 476 million euros) for British Chieftain tanks that were never delivered to his country.
The British minister confirmed that the UK’s debt to Iran had been paid “in full compliance with UK and international sanctions”.
Project manager at the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic branch of the news agency of the same name, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016 in Tehran during a visit to her family.
She was accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic, which she vehemently denies, and sentenced to five years in prison.
After serving her sentence, she was sentenced again in late April to one year in prison for participating in a demonstration in front of the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.
In October 2021, Zaghari-Ratcliffe lost an appeal, which raised concerns among her family members of a return to prison, from where she was released with an electronic bracelet – under house arrest – in March 2020, due to the covid pandemic. -19.
Anooshe Ashoori was arrested in Tehran in August 2017 and later sentenced to 12 years in prison for alleged links with the Israeli Mossad intelligence service, a situation he denies.
“Due to his advanced age and physical condition, a court approved his parole and [Ashoori] was released,” said spokesman for judicial authorities, Zabihollah Khodayian, quoted by Iranian news agency Fars.