Free Nazanin: MP calls on government to 'get a flight booked'
Caitlin Doherty, PA
- Credit: PA
The government “doesn’t have a plan” to bring Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe home at the end of her five-year sentence in Iran next month, her MP fears.
The West Hampstead mum has been detained in Iran since 2016, when she was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.
The sentence is due to end on March 7 but Nazanin's MP, Tulip Siddiq, said: “We need a plan at this point, there’s no point just hoping and thinking ‘right, it’s coming to an end in March and she’s coming home’ – we need a plan to make sure that she gets her ankle tag removed, that’s the first thing.
“She has to have her British passport returned, and then have a flight booked for her to come back to West Hampstead where her home is.”
Tulip also called on UK authorities to finally "resolve" the £400m debt owed to Iran. Nazanin has been explicitly told the debt is related to her case by
She added: “My constituent’s life is basically a bargaining chip because she’s not being set free because we haven’t fulfilled our responsibility of paying the debt.”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly called the debt and Nazanin’s imprisonment “unrelated issues” when it was raised in the House of Commons last November.
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Mr Cleverly said in the same session: “We recognise the debt is due. We are working to resolve this.”
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 42, has been out of prison since last spring due to the coronavirus crisis, and has been under house arrest at her parents’ home in Tehran.
“I understand we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I do understand the Government has lots on its plate but this is a woman who has been separated from her family for five years for a crime she didn’t commit and this is our final chance to do something right by her and bring her home,” Ms Siddiq said.
A government spokesperson said the UK government remained "in close contact" with Nazanin and her family.
They added: “We do not accept Iran detaining dual British nationals as diplomatic leverage. The regime must end its arbitrary detention of all dual British nationals.”