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A Tortoise File

Nazanin: Trapped in Whitehall

How machinations and missteps over an unpaid debt have compounded the plight of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin: Trapped in Whitehall

First published
Tuesday 9 November 2021

Last updated
Thursday 11 November 2021

Why this story?

Today, Richard Ratcliffe enters the 17th day of his hunger strike outside the Foreign Office in London, trying to shame the British government into a change of approach towards his wife, Nazanin. Five and a half years after she was taken hostage in Iran, everyone knows what needs to be done to secure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s freedom – the UK has to settle a debt it owes to Iran for hundreds of tanks which were paid for decades ago but never delivered – and nobody seems to understand why it hasn’t happened. For every moment when a deal to pay the debt has been close there have been a dozen others when the government has fought through the courts to stop it. In London and Tehran, a fractured family waits in limbo while the cogs in Whitehall refuse to turn. Ceri Thomas, editor