Connect with us


Row over £400m debt linked to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release is ‘nonsense’, says her husband | UK News



The husband of the British-Iranian woman jailed in Iran has said the MoD’s argument for not paying its debt to Iran is “nonsense”.

Despite Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying this week the government will “keep leaving no stone unturned” in the case of imprisoned charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, it has emerged a row between government departments could be preventing the mother’s release.

A debt of £400m is owed to Iran over a 30-year-old British tank sale. The debt, recognised by an international arbitration court, is expected to help lead to the release of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been jailed since 2016

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is reportedly refusing to hand over the money, saying it believes the money would end up with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), The Guardian reports.

Speaking to Sky News, her husband Richard Ratcliffe said: “It’s the first I had heard of it that it was a dispute between the MoD and the Foreign Office. It’s been my experience that all government departments are fairly guarded on it.”

He added: “Legally of course the argument is nonsense. You can say we don’t want to give the money to the central bank of Iran because they’ve got some dodgy friends that they’ll give it to.”

The IRGC is the military arm of Iran’s government and has been declared a terrorist organisation by the US. However, the UK does not recognise it as a terrorist group..

Mr Ratcliffe said: “Our understanding is there is a level of secrecy if I’m honest and opaqueness around what’s going on and why it won’t be paid. Different reasons have been given at different points. It’s been related to sanctions at some times and it’s now been related to concerns about the revolutionary guard.”

He continued: “The government has two obligations. One is to protect its citizens that are currently going through this and Nazanin is not the only one. And to protect for long term. I’m not sure keeping this secret has been the way forward.”

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with husband Richard and their daughter

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been detained in Iran since 2016 on spying charges, which she denies, with Mr Hunt granting her diplomatic protection.

She was arrested just as she was due to head back from a family holiday with her then 22-month-old daughter Gabriella.

Since being jailed, the mother-of-one has been on a hunger strike over her treatment and was said to have been left in terror after refusing to spy on Britain for Iran.

Mr Hunt said on Monday the government was “very happy” for a court hearing, which campaigners have linked to the Anglo-Iranian mother’s case, to be made public.

“The reality is that Nazanin is an entirely innocent woman who is being held as a tool of diplomatic leverage by Iran and we don’t know exactly what it is they’re looking for, but the problem is if you pay ransom money to someone who is a hostage, then all that happens is you might get that hostage out, but the next time they want something, they’ll just take someone else hostage, that is the conundrum you have,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

He added: “We are going to keep leaving no stone unturned because this is absolutely essential and we mustn’t forget, she’s not the only one in this situation. She’s the only one whose family have chosen to go public but there are other people who are also suffering terribly.”

Advertisement Find your dream job