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Liz Truss has paid tribute to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family and their “incredible resolve and determination” after her release from prison in Iran after six years detainment.
In a statement to the Commons the foreign secretary said the whole House and the whole country “will rejoice at this news and will share in the relief that this horrendous ordeal is over”.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe will arrive in the UK later today after being detained in Iran since April 2016.
She was sentenced to a five-year term in prison for the charge of spying, an allegation she strongly denies.
Her release comes after the UK settled a £400million debt relating to an order of Chieftain tanks which was cancelled following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the revolution of 1979.
Truss told MPs: “We have found a way to make the payments in compliance with UK and international sanctions and global counterterrorism financing and anti money laundering regulations.”
Confirming two other imprisoned dual nationals are being released, she added: “I want to express my admiration for the incredible resolve and determination showed by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Anoosheh Ashoori, Morad Tahbaz and their families.”
In a statement confirming Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release earlier on Wednesday, Truss said she made “resolving the continued detention of British nationals and the IMS debt payment” her top priorities when she entered the foreign office last September.
”Last month I spoke twice to Iranian foreign minister Amir-Abdollahian in a final push to bring negotiations to a successful conclusion,” she said earlier.
“Our officials then held a last round of negotiations to sign off an agreement allowing Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori to return to the UK, and Morad Tahbaz to be released on furlough to his house in Tehran.
“The IMS debt has been settled in full compliance with UK and international sanctions and all legal obligations.
“These funds will be ring-fenced solely for the purchase of humanitarian goods.”
Confirmation the money has been paid came in a written statement from the defence secretary Ben Wallace this afternoon, who said he had authorised the release of the funds last Thursday.
“The payment of the debt reflects the UK government’s determination to meet that international obligation, while seeking to ensure that such funds can only be used in accordance with applicable sanctions, and domestic counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation, for example to purchase humanitarian goods,” the Cabinet minister added.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe said he was “deeply grateful” for her release and that he and their daughter Gabriella were “looking forward to a new life”.
Speaking to the media this afternoon he said she had asked for him to make her a cup of tea on her arrival back in Britain.
“There will probably be a couple of days peace and quiet somewhere else, and then back here,” he said.
The family of Anoosheh Ashoori said they were “delighted” he had been released from Iran and was returning to the UK, adding: “This day has been a long time coming, and we are thankful for the efforts of everyone involved in bringing Anoosheh home.”
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