Aid worker jailed in Iran gets her British passport back, says MP

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was arrested in Tehran in 2016, denies Iranian charges

British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has had her British passport returned, British MP Tulip Siddiq said on Tuesday, as Tehran and London pressed on with talks about a long-standing £400 million (€480 million) debt.

“I am very pleased to say that Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been given her British passport back,” Mr Siddiq, who is MP for where Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe used to live in London, said on Twitter.

“She is still at her family home in Tehran. I also understand that there is a British negotiating team in Tehran right now,” she added on Twitter. Reuters was unable to ascertain if a British team of negotiators was in Tehran nor what the subject of any discussion would be.

Asked if Britain had a negotiating team out in Iran, prime minister Boris Johnson's spokesman said: "I'm not going to get into further speculation at this point."


A spokesperson for Mr Siddiq’s office said the MP had based her remarks on information from Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s family.

Separately, her lawyer Hojjat Kermani, when asked whether Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe would be released, said: "I am hopeful that we will have good news soon."

Mr Kermani said his view was based on meetings and discussions he had had with the Iranian judiciary about the case of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted by an Iranian court of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.

Her family and the foundation, a charity that operates independently of Thomson Reuters and its news subsidiary Reuters, deny the charge.

‘Unfairly detained’

Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Britain’s foreign and Commonwealth office said: “We have long called for the release of unfairly detained British nationals in Iran. We don’t comment on speculation.”

The Thomson Reuters Foundation declined immediate comment on Siddiq's statement. Richard Ratcliffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iranian officials did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the remarks by Mr Siddiq and Mr Kermani.

Reuters was unable to independently establish the status of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Iran’s clerical establishment says Britain owes the money that Iran’s Shah paid up front for 1,750 Chieftain tanks and other vehicles, almost none of which were eventually delivered after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 toppled the US-backed leader.

While the British and Iranian governments have said there is no connection between the debt and the case of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Iranian state media in 2021 reported unidentified Iranian officials saying she would be freed once the debt was paid.

Iranian officials did not comment when asked whether the amount had been paid by Britain, as reported by some Iranian outlets. – Reuters