Published: Sat, November 18, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Britain Denies Debt to Iran Linked to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Case

Britain Denies Debt to Iran Linked to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's Case

The Telegraph newspaper reported Thursday that Britain was working on a plan to pay Iran the debt, as part of efforts to secure the release of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Downing Street has denied there is any link between a £450m debt owed to Iran and the fate of jailed aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson denied the move had anything to do with Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case.

A British government official, who asked not to be named, said on Friday it was "speculation" that the money would be paid. However, the Treasury said that the money could not be paid because of sanctions on Iran.

Concerned by reports that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is unwell, Dr Rowan continued: "The Iranian Government understands there is a role for religious leaders in public life and it's a role which has to do with fundamental moral issues".

"But Iran, particularly the Revolutionary Guard, will want something in return for her release, and payment of this debt could be it".

Speaking after his first meeting with Boris, Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard said: "It is important that the United Kingdom honours its global legal obligations, so that Iran can honour its legal obligations".

In the 1970s the Iranian Shah ordered and payed for 1,750 Cheiftan tanks from the UK. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the United Kingdom held onto the money.

The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2001 that the outstanding funds should be returned. "That's not something I recognise".

Britain will pay back a historical debt of £450 million to Iran "in the coming days", Tehran's envoy to London claimed yesterday.

He apologised to her on Monday for the "further anguish" caused by his previous claim she was "training journalists" when she was visiting Tehran in 2016.

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