United Kingdom considering £450m Iran debt settlement to help free jailed Briton

Frederick Owens
November 19, 2017

"I think it is really important that he is making very clear signals that he is going to Iran, and that he goes to Iran and raises Nazanin's case as a top priority", Ratcliffe said on Monday.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been locked up since April 2016 on trumped up propaganda charges.

Britain is said to owe Iran £450m for a cancelled arms deal in the 1970s.

It was widely reported in recent days that the UK Government was considering paying the amount in return for the release of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was seized by Iranian authorities during a family holiday.

Officially, the UK Government does not make ransom payments.

According to exclusive reports Iranian hardliners have told ministers they expect the long-standing debt to be settled as part of a shopping list of demands before Nazanin is freed.

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At the time of her arrest, the IRGC referred to Zaghari as "a main ringleader of hostile institutions who had been involved in criminal activities over the past years under the auspices of the foreign governments' media and espionage services". After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the United Kingdom held onto the money.

He added that while the debt has been neither demanded by Iran nor offered by the United Kingdom, the story was likely revealed to "test Iranian reaction and, to a lesser extent, British public opinion". "The contracts between Iran and United Kingdom over Chieftain tanks and armored vehicles were signed in 1974 and 1976, something around more than 40 years ago", recounted the Iranian diplomat.

The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2001 that the outstanding funds should be returned.

Dr Rowan said current Archbishop of Canterbury Most Rev Justin Welby, Cardinal Vincent Nichols or a senior Vatican figure could be well-placed to help secure Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's freedom.

"The reports are speculation, not anything that I recognise", he added.

Boris Johnson later apologised and retracted the statement.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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