Detained UK woman Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘on her way home’ from Iran, British MP says

British-Iranian national Anoosheh Ashoori, sentenced to 10 years on charges of spying for Israel, said to be released as well

An undated file photo provided by the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran. (Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe via AP, File)
An undated file photo provided by the family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran. (Family of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe via AP, File)

A British lawmaker said Wednesday that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a UK charity worker who has been detained in Iran for nearly six years, was at Tehran’s airport and set to leave the country.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe,a dual national, was given back her British passport over the weekend, raising hopes that her long ordeal was coming to a close.

“Nazanin is at the airport in Tehran and on her way home,’’ lawmaker Tulip Siddiq tweeted. “I came into politics to make a difference, and right now I’m feeling like I have.’’

It was also reported by the Guardian, citing an official, that Anoosheh Ashoori, another UK-Iranian national held in Tehran, was released and was heading back to the UK.

The retired engineer was arrested in August 2017 and sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for Israel.

Their lawyer Hojjat Kermani confirmed to Reuters that the two have been granted permission to leave.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had confirmed earlier that a negotiating team was at work in Tehran to free Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Johnson’s comments were made on a visit to the Middle East.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and data agency, was arrested during a visit to her family in the Iranian capital in 2016 and convicted of plotting to overthrow the government. She was jailed for five years.

She was sentenced to a further year’s imprisonment in April last year for participating in a rally outside the Iranian embassy in London in 2009.

Her husband Richard Ratcliffe staged a hunger strike outside the foreign ministry in London last October after she lost her latest appeal, and as government ministers held talks with Iranian counterparts.

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, seen in poster, outside the Iranian Embassy in London, June 29, 2019, (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

She was freed from prison with an electronic tag in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic but has been held in Iran under a form of house arrest ever since.

Another UK-Iranian national held in Tehran is Mehran Raoof, a labor rights activist, who was detained in October 2020 and was being held in solitary confinement, according to Amnesty.

Dual nationals from Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and the United States have also been arrested in similar circumstances.

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