An Iranian-British woman held in Iran since 2016 has little chance of being released as of today. But this will only happen if the UK repays about €459 million in debt to Iran.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, was arrested in April 2016 during a family visit to Iran and convicted of attempting to overthrow the country’s regime using propaganda. In March of this year, her house arrest was lifted because she had served her sentence. But last week she was convicted again. Also this time, she has to spend a year in prison for propaganda activities against the Iranian government. Because of the coronavirus, Iran temporarily released 54,000 inmates last year in a bid to curb the spread of the virus in overcrowded prisons.
Free only if the UK pays Iran’s military debt
But the Iranian government said today that Zaghari-Ratcliffe has a chance of being released. But then the UK will have to dig into its pockets. Iran wants the UK to repay its outstanding military debt. This will cost at least 459 million euros.
Previously, the United Kingdom called the way Zaghari-Ratcliffe was treated “torture”. “She is being held against the law and is not being treated well,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said today. “All in all, there is definitely torture.” According to Raab, Zaghari-Ratcliffe is used as a “pawn in the Iranian game”. It will be used as a proxy in negotiations with the UK.
Also exchange prisoners with the United States
Iranian state television reported that there will also be a prisoner exchange between Iran and the United States. It was not clear how many prisoners were involved. But the United States disputes this claim. According to US security adviser Jake Sullivan, negotiations are still ongoing. “There is still a lot of space between the two sides,” he said.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband and 6-year-old daughter live in the United Kingdom. When Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested in 2016, her daughter was there. The girl does not yet know that her mother has been convicted again.
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