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In April 2016, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was detained by Iranian authorities. She was later imprisoned for five years for allegedly plotting to topple the Iranian regime. In that time, the UK left the European Union, there were two Olympic games, the Trump presidency came and went, and a global pandemic brought the world to a standstill. Meanwhile four foreign secretaries, including Boris Johnson, negotiated for Nazanin’s release — all without success.
Some efforts gained more headway than others, but the most promising lead involves the story of a cancelled arms deal and an unpaid debt between the UK and Iran from the 1970s.
The UK has agreed to pay the debt, but sanctions, Iran’s connections to terrorism and an unwillingness on the part of the UK to be seen to pay ransoms for hostages mean things aren’t that straightforward.
Nazanin’s best hope, and the hopes of other British nationals in similar situations, relies on some complicated geo-political and legal choreography.
Following the broadcast of Nazanin, a Tortoise production on BBC Radio 4, join us for a ThinkIn with Richard Ratcliffe, Sherry Izadi and others as we explore how a 1970s arms deal is impacting families today.
editor and invited experts
Son of Anoosheh Ashoori
Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Wife of Anoosheh Ashoori, a British-Iranian citizen accused of spying for Israel and jailed in Iran