TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed reports about London’s decision to transfer 400 million pounds ($525 million) to Iran to settle a 38-year-old debt to secure the liberation of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British citizen convicted in Iran on espionage charges.
Speaking to ISNA on Thursday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi denied British media reports that the UK government would pay the outstanding £450 million debt to Iran to help free Zaghari, who was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport by the IRGC intelligence forces in April 2016.
“Mrs. Nazanin Zaghari’s case came to an Iranian court and she was convicted after the necessary judicial steps,” the spokesperson explained.
Her case has nothing to do with the debt settlement issue, Qassemi underlined, saying Tehran launched efforts to restore its rights a long time ago, has held extensive and lengthy talks with the British government over the debt, and has pursued the case via various channels.
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.”
She is now serving a five-year sentence in Iran.
Earlier this month, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a parliamentary committee that Zaghari might have been training journalists in Iran, a slip for which he eventually apologized.
Now, according to the Telegraph, Britain is to hand 400 million pounds to Iran to settle an outstanding debt from the 1970s, when the country’s deposed king placed an order for Chieftan military tanks.After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the UK held onto the money.
The money is being held by the British High Court on behalf of the government, after The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Iran in 2001, according to British sources.