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Iran Releases Two British-Iranians


FILE - Handout file taken on March 17, 2020 of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

British-Iranian nationals Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashouri returned to the United Kingdom early Thursday after being released from years of imprisonment in Iran.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained at Tehran's international airport in April 2016 as she was trying to return home with her daughter to Britain from a visit to relatives in Iran. An Iranian court sentenced the charity worker in September to five years in prison for undisclosed security offenses. She was accused of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

Iran-born Ashoori was arrested in Tehran in August 2017 while visiting his mother. He traveled from London, where he, his wife, son and daughter have lived for decades. Iranian authorities later convicted him of spying for Israel and sentenced him to 10 years in the capital’s Evin prison.

Human rights groups have accused Tehran of taking dual-national hostages as bargaining chips, something Iran denies.

Iran state media reported that Britain had paid Iran a “long-overdue debt of $530 million to Tehran.”

The debt was from a 1970s deal for Britain to sell tanks and other military vehicles to Iran, but almost none of them were actually delivered following the 1979 Iranian revolution.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Wednesday the debt was settled “in parallel” with the hostage releases, and was in compliance with existing sanctions against Iran.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.