Nazanin Zaghari released, returns to Britain

March 16, 2022 - 14:2

TEHRAN – Nazanin Zaghari, a British-Iranian national who had been serving prison terms in Iran on charges of trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic system, was released on Wednesday and returned to Britain.

Zaghari, 43, was released after six years in prison. She had been detained by the IRGC intelligence service on espionage charges while trying to leave Iran in 2016. 

Hojjat Kermani, Zaghari’s lawyer, told IRNA on Tuesday that his client's passport had been given to her.

Kermani added that Zaghari's prison term for one of her convictions had ended in March 2021.

Back in October 2017, the prosecutor general of Tehran stated that she was being held for running “a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran.”

A report published by the Fars news agency on Monday said Zaghari would be released soon in return for London’s commitment to pay off a long-overdue debt to Tehran.

In return, Britain would pay $530 million (400 million pounds) to Iran to settle a debt related to an unfulfilled military contract that dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Fars reported.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday declined to comment on the Zaghari case and whether there have been direct talks on the debt issue in Tehran although he admitted that talks on consular cases have been going on for a long time.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Wednesday morning that her country is looking at ways to pay the 400-million-pound debt to Iran.

“We have been clear this is a legitimate debt that we do owe Iran and we have been seeking ways to pay it,” Truss told Sky News.

Anoush-e Ashouri, also another Iranian-British national who had also been detained and imprisoned on security charges, departed Tehran for Britain.  

Ashouri had also been jailed for involvement in espionage activities against the Islamic Republic.

Ashouri, who previously lived in southeast London with his family, was detained in August 2017 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for cooperating with Israel’s spy agency Mossad and two years for obtaining 33,000 euros in “illicit funds” nearly a year later.