Nazanin being used as £400m 'bargaining chip', husband tells LBC on day 10 of hunger strike

2 November 2021, 15:16

By James Morris

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has told LBC she is being used as a “bargaining chip” on day 10 of his hunger strike.

Richard Ratcliffe repeated his assertion that Iran is holding Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe “hostage” over £400m that it “wants back off the Brits”.

According to her family, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was told by Iranian authorities that she was being detained because of the UK's failure to pay an outstanding £400 million debt to Iran.

This relates to the non-delivery of tanks from Britain ordered by the Shah of Iran before he was overthrown in the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Richard Ratcliffe is on day 10 of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office
Richard Ratcliffe is on day 10 of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office. Picture: Getty

Asked by James O'Brien who he is trying to “shame” with his ongoing hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, Mr Ratcliffe said: “It’s meant to shame the British government… it is clear at this stage that Nazanin is being used as a bargaining chip.

“The threat of prison is a game the Iranians do. They will follow through.

“It’s also clear they are holding her because they want their money back off the Brits.”

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife is being used as a 'bargaining chip'
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife is being used as a 'bargaining chip'. Picture: Getty

He added of the £400m debt from 42 years ago: “It’s been a long, bitter battle – a long time before we ever appeared on the scene.

“But when you start having your own citizens being taken hostage over it, it is time to re-think that policy.”

Mr Ratcliffe said he met new foreign secretary Liz Truss last week, and that he urged her to resolve the debt. He said Ms Truss “didn’t have an answer… she was new in post and felt fairly nervous”.

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Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been in custody in the country since 2016 after being accused of plotting to overthrow the government.

She was taking her daughter Gabriella to see her family when she was arrested, and was sentenced to five years in prison shortly afterwards – spending four years in Evin Prison and one under house arrest.

Earlier this month, she lost an appeal against a second sentence of one year.