Read More Atheist Republic On Thursday, March 17, jubilant passengers landed in RAF Brize Norton, the United Kingdom, after years of detention in Iran. British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori were finally reunited with their families. Both were released on March 16, 2022.
Gabriella, the seven-year-old daughter of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, asked if who she was seeing was her mother before rushing for a hug. Elika, Asshori’s daughter, also expressed how happy she is seeing her father for the first time after several years.
Happiness in one pic @FreeAnoosheh @FreeNazanin pic.twitter.com/BantiRZGgm
— Elika Ashoori (@lilika49) March 17, 2022
Both were arrested in Iran and were detained for several years following questionable accusations of espionage and charges against Iran’s security. The two have consistently denied any of the allegations.
Ratcliffe was a project manager for Thomson Reuters Foundation when she was arrested. She was also previously employed by BBC Media Action. Ratcliffe was detained in Iran in 2016. She was visiting her parents together with her daughter, planning to celebrate the Iranian new year.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards accused Ratcliffe of “leading a foreign-linked hostile network.” She was sentenced to five years in prison. Iran rejected her appeal in 2017, and in 2021, she was sentenced to another year in jail.
Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, went on hunger strike to convince the British government to put more pressure on Iran to release his wife.
Ashoori, a 67-year old retired civil engineer, was arrested in August 2017 during a family visit to Iran. Asshori was accused of spying for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency despite living in the UK for 20 years and was sentenced to ten years.
Ashoori’s detention based on an outrageous charge is seen as Iran using civilians to further its agenda.
Iran’s unjustified detention of individuals with dual-citizenship is a clear pattern of what western media calls “hostage diplomacy.” Using the citizens from western countries as leverage for their political negotiations and bargaining chips.
In the 1970s, Iran ordered 1,500 Chieftain battle tanks and 250 repair vehicles and paid in full. The UK stopped delivering the military equipment when a theocratic regime overthrew the Shah of Iran. The UK only delivered 185 out of the 1,500 tanks already paid for by Iran.
A former foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said the arrests and Britain’s debt are connected. “I think they are trying to use this as leverage to settle the historic debt for the Chieftain tanks,” Hunt said.
However, Liz Truss, UK’s Foreign Secretary, called Ratcliffe and Ashoori’s case “parallel issues in our bilateral relationship” with Iran. She also acknowledges that the IMS debt is legitimate.